Nursing homes are required to provide patients with a hazard-free, clean, safe environment to live and receive treatment in. Slips and falls are one of the most common injuries in the United States, and elderly individuals are particularly susceptible to serious injuries as a result of a fall. At the law offices of Douglas, Haun & Heidemann, we believe nursing home patients should receive top-notch care at all times, and if they suffer an injury as a result of a fall in their nursing home, they deserve just compensation if negligence caused it.
The Severity of Falls for the Elderly
Roughly 1,800 nursing home residents die from falling accidents every year. Nonfatal falls may still cause severe injuries, including broken bones, spinal or brain injuries, or permanent disability, along with a diminished quality of life. Some patients who are unable to walk may still suffer a fall from a wheelchair accident or by rolling out of bed if they were not properly secured.
Some of the reasons nursing homes see falling accidents so often is due to their patients’ impaired health and dexterity. A few of the common causes of nursing home falls include:
- Weak muscles and reduced dexterity. Elderly individuals commonly have a reduced range of motion and slower reflexes, impairing their ability to catch themselves and regain balance during a fall.
- Unsafe environments, including wet floors, improperly sized or positioned beds, or poor lighting. Nursing homes owe a duty of care to their patients to ensure that their facilities and living spaces are properly maintained and free from hazards.
- Defective or poorly maintained wheelchairs and walkers.
- Medication, especially anti-anxiety medicines, sedatives, and any other drugs that affect the central nervous system.
These are only a few examples. Nursing home caregivers are required to ensure that each patient receives adequate individualized care and attention, and that they are not left in hazardous environments. Some of the methods nursing home staff may implement to reduce the risk of falls for their patients include:
- Clearly identifying patients at an increased risk for falls or who have reduced overall mobility.
- Encouraging ongoing training for staff members to ensure they can quickly identify and address potential falling hazards.
- Teaching proper safety measures to residents for changing positions, maintaining stability as they stand up or sit down, or move to and from wheelchairs.
- Offering exercise and physical activity to residents to maintain their strength.
- Maintaining a clean environment that is free of clutter and anything that presents a tripping or falling hazard.
- Ensuring that all mobility devices are well maintained and properly fitted for their users.
Most of the ways nursing homes prevent falls are based in common sense and their duty to act in the best interests of their patients and provide adequate, thorough care. If a fall was the result of irresponsible or careless actions, the victim may be entitled to compensation.
The main issue of any successful personal injury claim is proving that the defendant was negligent. Doing so requires proving three things:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care. In these situations, the nursing home and staff are required to provide patients with comprehensive care, keep track of their medications and health concerns, and maintain a clean and hazard-free environment.
- The defendant breached this duty. This may be either intentional (or willful) negligence, or simple carelessness. If the nursing home staff failed in their duties to protect the health and wellbeing of their patients, they have violated their duty of care.
- The victim’s injuries are a direct result of the defendants’ careless actions.
Once these facts have been established, the victim can successfully pursue a personal injury claim against a negligent nursing home or staff member. One of the best things victims can do to secure a positive outcome from these situations in Springfield, Mo., is to contact the right legal team. If you’d like to start reviewing a case or have any questions about a falling incident in a nursing home, reach out to Douglas, Haun & Heidemann today.