When Do Most Falls Occur in Nursing Homes?

Abuse and Neglect

Your loved one’s safety and well-being are of utmost importance, especially if they are residing in a nursing home. While nursing homes are meant to provide a safe and caring environment for our aging loved ones, the unfortunate reality is that falls are a common occurrence in these facilities. Falls can result in serious injuries and even fatalities, and it helps to understand when and why these falls happen.

If you or a loved one has experienced a fall in a nursing home and suffered injuries as a result, always seek legal representation. A knowledgeable Charleston nursing home injury lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.

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Understanding the Factors that Contribute to Falls in Nursing Homes

When Do Most Falls Occur in Nursing Homes

Falls in nursing homes can happen due to various reasons, ranging from environmental hazards to health-related issues. Let’s look closely at some factors contributing to falls in these facilities.

Environmental Hazards

Nursing homes are required to maintain a safe environment for their residents. However, there are instances where hazardous conditions can lead to falls. Common environmental hazards include:

  • Wet or slippery floors
  • Poor lighting in common areas and resident rooms
  • Cluttered hallways and walkways
  • Uneven or poorly maintained flooring
  • Improperly installed handrails

It is the responsibility of the nursing home staff to regularly inspect and address these hazards to prevent falls and ensure the safety of their residents.

Medications and Medical Conditions

Certain medications and underlying medical conditions can increase the risk of falls in nursing home residents. Factors that contribute to falls include:

  • Side effects of medications, such as drowsiness or dizziness
  • Uncontrolled medical conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension
  • Mobility impairments, including muscle weakness or balance problems

Nursing home staff should be vigilant in monitoring residents’ medication regimes and medical conditions to mitigate the risk of falls. Proper medication management and regular medical assessments are essential in preventing such incidents.

Lack of Adequate Supervision

Proper supervision is vital to prevent falls in nursing homes, especially for residents who require assistance with mobility or have cognitive impairments. Unfortunately, due to understaffing or neglect, some residents do not receive the necessary level of supervision. This lack of adequate supervision can result in falls and related injuries.

Nursing homes must ensure that there is an appropriate staff-to-resident ratio to provide the necessary supervision and assistance. Adequate staffing levels and trained caregivers are crucial in preventing falls and ensuring the safety of residents. If you or a loved one has experienced a fall in a nursing home, do not hesitate to seek legal representation.

The Most Common Times for Falls to Occur in Nursing Homes

While falls can happen at any time and nearly anywhere in a nursing home, certain periods are more prone to falls. Being aware of these high-risk times can help nursing home staff and families take preventative measures to reduce the occurrence of falls.

Morning Routine

The morning routine in nursing homes involves activities such as getting out of bed, using the bathroom, and dressing. These activities require mobility and can be challenging for residents with limited strength and balance. As residents adjust to being upright after being in bed for an extended period, their risk of falling increases. Nursing home staff should provide assistance and support during this transition to minimize falls.

During the Night

Nursing home residents can have difficulty seeing in the dark and be more confused at night. If they need to get up to use the restroom or care for other needs, they may be impatient waiting for staff to assist them. Once they are up, they may also be in a hurry to get back to bed. If staff isn’t attentive to these needs, falls can occur.

Meal Times

Meal times can be busy and crowded in nursing homes. Residents may navigate through dining areas, balancing trays and using walking aids. The combination of limited space, potential distractions, and mobility challenges can contribute to falls. Proper seating arrangements, clear pathways, and assistance from staff can help reduce falls during meal times.

Medication Administration

When medication rounds are conducted, residents may be required to move from their rooms to a central location, such as a medication cart. This movement can increase the risk of falls, especially if the resident is unsteady or has hazards in the hallways. Nursing home staff should ensure a safe and supervised environment during medication administration to prevent falls.

Shift Changes

Multiple staff members may move around the facility during shift changes, attend to administrative tasks, or provide handover information. This can result in temporary distractions and reduced supervision, increasing the risk of falls. Nursing homes must maintain consistent and continuous care during shift changes to prevent falls during these transition periods.

Within the First 72 Hours of Admission to a Nursing Home

When they are first admitted, nursing home residents can be confused. They are also unfamiliar with their surroundings and the nursing home routines. They may need constant reminders to ask for help to get up so they don’t fall. All the factors combine to make the first 72 hours in a nursing home some of the riskiest when it comes to falls.

Compensable Damages in a Nursing Home Fall Case

Compensable damages in a nursing home fall case refer to the various types of losses and harm that a resident or their family may seek compensation for when pursuing a legal claim against a negligent nursing home. When a resident experiences a fall due to the negligence of the facility or its staff, the resulting damages can extend beyond immediate medical costs. Understanding compensable damages is crucial for evaluating the impact of the fall on the resident’s life and well-being and for seeking appropriate compensation to address these losses.

Medical Expenses

One of the primary compensable damages in a nursing home fall case is the reimbursement of medical expenses. This includes the costs associated with emergency medical treatment, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, rehabilitation, physical therapy, and any other necessary medical interventions arising from the fall.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and Suffering Nursing Home Injuries

Residents who experience a fall often endure physical pain and emotional distress. Compensable damages may include compensation for the pain and suffering endured by the resident as a direct result of the fall. Pain and suffering damages aim to address the intangible harm experienced by the resident.

Loss of Enjoyment of Life

Falls can lead to a significant reduction in the resident’s quality of life. Suppose the resident experiences limitations in their mobility, independence, or ability to engage in activities they once enjoyed. In that case, they may be eligible for compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life.

Disability or Impairment

In cases where a nursing home fall results in a disability or long-term impairment, compensable damages may cover the ongoing costs associated with living with a disability. This may include expenses related to adaptive equipment, home modifications, and ongoing medical care.

Rehabilitation Costs

Residents who require rehabilitation following a fall may incur significant expenses. Compensable damages can encompass the costs of rehabilitation services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, and any other therapeutic interventions aimed at restoring the resident’s functionality.

Future Medical Expenses

Some nursing home falls lead to long-term consequences that may necessitate ongoing medical care and treatment. Compensable damages may include the estimation of future medical expenses, ensuring that the resident has the financial means to address their healthcare needs.

Emotional Distress

Emotional distress resulting from a nursing home fall is a valid element of compensable damages. This may include anxiety, depression, and other emotional consequences experienced by the resident due to the trauma of the fall and its aftermath.

Wrongful Death Damages

In tragic cases where a nursing home fall leads to the death of the resident, compensable damages may extend to wrongful death claims. These damages can include funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and compensation for the emotional impact on surviving family members.

Legal Fees and Costs

Residents or their families pursuing a nursing home fall case may incur legal fees and costs. Compensable damages can include reimbursement for these expenses, ensuring that pursuing justice does not create an additional financial burden.

Punitive Damages

Punitive damages may be awarded in cases of egregious negligence or intentional misconduct. These damages aim to punish the nursing home for its actions and deter similar conduct in the future.

Understanding the full scope of compensable damages is crucial for developing a comprehensive legal strategy in a nursing home fall case. Legal professionals specializing in nursing home abuse and neglect can help assess the specific damages applicable to each case, ensuring that residents and their families receive fair compensation for the harm caused by negligence.

Should You Remove Your Loved One from a Nursing Home if There are Reports of Falls?

Consider Your Abilities and Resources

There are factors to consider outside the walls of the nursing home if you are thinking about removing your loved one. These must be weighed with your concerns about the nursing home to determine the best course of action. Depending on the situation, you may want to consult with your loved one’s physician, a case manager, law enforcement, or even an attorney about what to do.

You need to think about where your loved one will go when they leave the nursing home. Will you transfer them to another facility? Will they live with you or another family member? If they will be living with someone, will they be safe? Are adjustments and modifications needed in the home, such as a raised toilet seat, handrails, a walk-in shower, a shower seat, or a bedroom on the main floor? Will you want to get your loved one a medical alert system for emergencies?

Another critical factor to consider is whether you will need to arrange support services in the home for your loved one, such as home nursing, meals on Wheels, private caregivers, or adult daycare. Moving your loved one out of a nursing home can also be costly. You will need to ensure that you have the financial support and resources to get your loved one the care they need if they leave the nursing home. You might want to contact your local Area Agency on Aging to see what resources are available in your community.

If you decide to remove your loved one from the nursing home, notify the nursing home director, your loved one’s doctor, and other health professionals of the plan. You can also use the nursing home social worker for advice and help with discharge planning.

Most individuals don’t stop to think about the possibility of having to remove their loved one from a nursing home. However, they want the necessary care for their family members for as long as possible. Unfortunately, there are risks involved when you place a loved one in a nursing home, such as abuse, neglect, or even falls.

Abuse and negligence in care facilities occur far too often throughout the entire United States and often lead to falls. If you or a loved one is a victim of abuse or negligence in a nursing home, a seasoned nursing home injury attorney can help protect your rights. You or your loved one can receive financial compensation for the damages either of you suffer.

Seeking Legal Help for Nursing Home Falls

Falls in nursing homes can lead to devastating consequences for residents and their families. Understanding the contributing factors and high-risk times for falls is crucial in preventing these incidents and ensuring the safety of nursing home residents.

If you or your loved one has suffered a fall in a nursing home and sustained injuries, it’s in your best interest to consult with a nursing home injury attorney. They can help you navigate the legal complexities surrounding nursing home falls and protect your rights. They will gather evidence, interview witnesses, review medical records, and work with experts to build a strong case on your behalf.

By retaining a personal injury law firm in Charleston, you have someone in your corner who will fight for your rights and obtain the compensation you deserve. They will hold the nursing home accountable for their negligence and strive to prevent similar incidents from happening to others.