Falls of patients in nursing homes are often preventable, yet they are still the leading cause of injuries in seniors who are residents there. Research shows elderly adults are four times more likely to die of fall related injuries if they live in a nursing home as compared to those who live at home. Part of that is due to the home’s improper follow up investigation and care, and part is due to its failure to implement proper fall prevention.

Inadequate staffing is an ongoing problem in nursing homes, despite being a significant risk factor for falls. All too often, patients fall because there is no one available to help them to the bathroom, or they are dropped by one staff member when two were required to assist them. Understaffing also prevents timely response to alarms for patients in need.

Nursing homes are required to provide residents with a safe and hazard-free environment. Between 16% and 27% of nursing home falls are caused by factors like dim lighting, slippery floors, broken equipment, and unclear walkways. Incorrect bed heights and faulty bed rails account for almost 30% of all nursing home falls.

Children are known to bounce back quickly after an injury, but older adults recover much more slowly, or sadly, never. Falling can cause serious injuries like a fractured hip or head trauma. Approximately 20% of seniors who sustain a hip fracture die within one year. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries in older adults, accounting for approximately 60%. A fall can reduce or eliminate a person’s mobility and independence by causing them to fear activity. This decrease in activity puts seniors at a higher risk of pneumonia and other health complications, which can also lead to death.

What happens if you receive a contact from the nursing home advising your loved one fell?

First, make sure they are examined and receive the proper care. That may require assessment and care both at the facility and/or a hospital. Next, talk with the nursing staff to discover how the fall occurred and assure a report is filed by them. Though nursing homes are required to report falls and injuries, they often do not. Please do not hesitate to take any further steps you consider necessary.

If you suspect injuries were sustained due to abuse, you should contact the authorities, including the ombudsman’s office, health department, and/or police if you deem necessary. If a loved one suffers a fall or injury from an unknown source at a nursing home, it may be due to negligence.

Stark & Stark’s nursing home attorneys can determine whether there is a claim, and if so, will fight to recover the compensation your loved one deserves.