Traumatic Brain Injuries in Nursing Homes

When Nursing Home Residents Sustain TBIs, the Facility is Often to Blame

If you’ve moved your aging relative into a nursing home, you know how difficult it can be to make that decision. Ideally, you’ve found a nursing home that’s a good fit for your loved one and you can rest comfortably in the knowledge that your relative is well provided for and has access to round-the-clock care. Unfortunately, every year, untold numbers of nursing home residents are injured as a result of the negligence of the facility’s staff or administration—sometimes seriously. When nursing home residents sustain a traumatic brain injury, it often results from the negligence of the facility’s administration or staff, which means that the nursing home can usually be held liable for the losses suffered by the victim.

At the Hughey Law Firm, we understand how devastating TBIs can be for victims and their families and do everything possible to hold nursing homes accountable for the negligence of their employees. To schedule a free consultation with a Charleston nursing home injury lawyer, call our office today at (843) 881-8644 or contact us online.

Nursing Home Abuse: The Statistics

It’s widely believed that nursing home abuse is underreported, which makes it difficult to adequately quantify. The National Center on Elder Abuse (NCEA) reports, however, that one in three nursing homes was cited for violating federal standards that either injured or could have injured residents in the period from 1999 to 2001. In this same period, nearly one in 10 nursing homes was cited for violations that left residents harmed, seriously harmed, or in danger of dying. Nursing home neglect happens, and it’s often quite serious.

Elder Abuse

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines elder abuse as an intentional act—or failure to act—by a caregiver of an older adult (with whom he or she is in a relationship in which there’s an expectation of trust) that causes the older adult to be put at risk of being harmed. Neglect is a further categorization of this definition, and it refers to a caregiver’s failure to protect the older person in his or her care from harm. In many instances, it is this type of neglect that causes serious injuries to residents—including TBIs. Some examples of the kinds of nursing home neglect that can result in brain injuries include the following:

  • Overmedication
  • Failure to provide walking aids
  • Failure to diagnose a medical condition that can impair balance
  • Failure to clean up fall hazards
  • Failure to provide in-residence bathroom handles

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Traumatic brain injuries are injuries to the brain that are usually caused by a forceful blow to the head. TBIs are sometimes referred to as silent injuries because there’s often no outward indication of the injury. Further, the symptoms of a TBI can be slow to present in the first place. These factors make TBIs that much more difficult to detect and, thus, treat.

Because our brains operate as our bodies’ command centers, even a minor brain injury can cause problems. A more serious injury can alter the course of the victim’s life in the blink of an eye. Every TBI should be taken extremely seriously.

Your Loved One’s TBI

The Mayo Clinic reports that falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries—especially for the very young and the elderly. If your loved one suffered a TBI while living in a nursing home, it was likely caused by a fall that the nursing home should have addressed directly. If that’s not the case, it means there’s a problem afoot.

Furthermore, the nursing home charged with your elderly relative’s care is responsible for creating a care plan that’s designed to meet your loved one’s health and safety needs. If he or she is vulnerable to falls, that issue should be directly addressed by the nursing home. While accidents do happen, your relative is in a nursing home for the exact purpose of being protected from dangerous falls and other accidents.

Know the Warning Signs

When it comes to traumatic brain injuries, it can be tricky because, again, these injuries don’t always present with symptoms at the time of the accident. In fact, delayed symptoms can make it difficult to pinpoint the precipitating accident. This is especially true for nursing home residents who may not be able to communicate well or who may be afraid to share the information. There are, however, some early symptoms that are commonly associated with TBIs:

  • Sudden onset of confusion, sleep disturbances, extreme fatigue, incoordination, and/or speech disturbances
  • Persistent headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unconsciousness
  • Numbness or weakness
  • Sudden change in mood or affect
  • Unconsciousness

The most effective method of protecting your loved one from nursing home abuse or neglect is to visit regularly Because you know your relative so well, you’re well positioned to pick up on any sudden changes—no matter how minor. While we all change as we age, anything that strikes you as off in your loved one’s demeanor could be indicative of a problem.

Falls in Nursing Homes

Falls are the most likely cause of traumatic brain injuries, and the CDC directly addresses the issues of falls in nursing homes:

  • About 5 percent of people aged 65 and older live in nursing homes, but this 5 percent accounts for 20 percent of all fall-related fatalities in this age group.
  • While it’s believed that many falls in nursing homes go unreported, an average nursing home with 100 beds reports between 100 and 200 falls every year.
  • Nursing home residents often suffer repeated falls, and the average fall rate is 2.5 per year.

The CDC further estimates that 10 to 20 percent of falls in nursing homes lead to serious injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation Today

The elderly are among our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, and it’s terrible to think that some of them suffer abuse and neglect at the hand of professional caregivers. If your loved one has suffered a TBI that you believe was caused by nursing home neglect or abuse, you’re no doubt devastated by the situation, and you need experienced legal counsel. At the Hughey Law Firm in Charleston, South Carolina, our dedicated nursing home abuse attorneys understand just how difficult these claims are, and we have the experience and compassion to fight for your relative’s rights, dignity, and just compensation. We’re here to help, so please contact us online or call our office at (843) 881-8644 today.

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