Resident Falls in Kentucky Nursing Homes
Louisville, KY, Nursing Home Abuse and Malpractice AttorneyFalls and the injuries resulting from them threaten many nursing home residents. Clinical research has shown that residents fall more often than other elderly adults who live within the community. In fact, almost half of those age 65 and older who are living in nursing homes fall annually, and 10%–15% of them are injured as a result—injuries such as fractures, which occur in over 5% of cases. For some, the consequences can be even more dire: approximately 1,800 nursing home residents die every year due fall-related injuries. Unfortunately, many nursing home staff members often fail to report resident falls.
Falls do not only cause physical injuries to nursing home residents. Older residents may suffer the following problems after falling:
- Decreased mental and physical functioning;
- Decreased quality of life or confidence;
- Isolation; and
- An increased fear of falling in the future.
Reasons Nursing Home Residents FallResidents fall for a variety of reasons, including overall weakness, debilitation, underlying medical conditions, and gait problems. However, many falls are preventable. Nursing home negligence can cause falls, and may include:
- Wet or cluttered floors;
- Inadequate lighting;
- Failing to use bedrails when clinically indicated;
- Improper bed height;
- Poorly fitted or maintained wheelchairs and assistive devices;
- Failing to use gait belts;
- Failing to use bed or chair alarms;
- Inadequate staff to assist residents with ambulation;
- Inadequate supervision of elderly residents;
- Improper use of psychotropic medications;
- Improper use of physical restraints; and
- Inadequate physical and fall risk assessments.
Evaluating Nursing Home Fall ClaimsThe fact that a resident falls while living in a nursing home does not automatically mean that there has been negligence or abuse. To properly and thoroughly evaluate a nursing home fall claim, an attorney must determine:
- The number of falls that have occurred, and how soon after admission they occurred;
- Whether anyone, including nursing home staff or family members, witnessed the fall;
- Whether the nursing home staff documented that the fall occurred;
- The extent of the physical injuries resulting from a fall;
- Whether the nursing home staff assessed the resident’s risk for falling upon admission;
- What preventative measures the nursing home instituted to reduce the resident’s fall risk;
- Whether the nursing home staff members followed the resident’s care plan, so as to reduce the risk of falling; and
- Whether the resident was taking any psychoactive or other medications that may have negatively affected his or her ability to walk, or could have caused confusion.