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Fall Prevention in Nursing Homes: Developing a Plan is Vital

Falls are an incredibly common cause of serious injury, particularly in the older generation. In fact, more than one out of every four individuals 65 or older falls every year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For those who are frail, infirm or unstable, the results can be devastating, and sadly, statistics show that someone who has fallen once is twice as likely to fall again.

What Are Common Fall-Induced Injuries?

Fatal falls have increased 30% between 2007 and 2016 according to the CDC. In 2016, 29,668 individuals 65 and older died as a result of a fall, compared with 18,334 in 2007. Furthermore, over 800,000 are hospitalized each year, and nearly 3 million people present to the Emergency Department annually on account of a fall. Head injuries, hip fractures and traumatic brain injuries are some of the most common serious injuries sustained by fall victims.

Not only can falls lead to fractured bones, brain damage or worse, they can also foster a lack of independence, helplessness, isolation, depression or anxiety in the elderly. Many times, those who fall become fearful of falling again. As a result, they may become less active, which ultimately makes them weaker and more likely to fall again.

Common Causes of Falls

Some of the most common causes of falls according to the CDC include:

  • Environmental hazards
  • Foot pain
  • Lack of Vitamin D
  • Lower body weakness
  • Medications that cause unsteadiness
  • Vision problems
  • Walking or gait problems

In nursing homes, further complications that can contribute to a fall include a lack of staff when patients need assistance ambulating, and sedentary lifestyles.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Nursing Home Falls?

Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities have a responsibility to keep residents safe while developing care plans and providing additional assistance for patients who are fall risks. Several ways to mitigate a patient’s risk of falling include the following:

  • Evaluate Residents. Nursing homes should evaluate residents upon admission to determine whether or not the patient is a fall risk.
  • Seek Necessary Assistance. Fall risk patients should have one to two staff members assist them when walking and use a gait belt as necessary.
  • Medication Management. Residents taking medications that affect their balance should frequently be monitored for changes and assessed to ensure they are safe and free from the risk of falling.
  • Participate in Daily Activities. Nursing homes should encourage residents to participate in daily exercise activities to help improve their balance and keep their muscles strong. Sedentary lifestyles can make muscles weaker and increase a patient’s chance of falling.
  • Remove Environmental Hazards. Hallways should be free of tripping hazards, and other accommodations should be made as necessary (a higher toilet seat, etc.)

Jehl Law Group Can Help Those Affected By a Serious Fall

A long-term care facility resident who falls because a nursing home was not adequately staffed or did not take the necessary precautions and measures to protect that patient’s safety may be a serious form of negligence. We have helped dozens of clients who have sustained serious or fatal injuries as a result of a fall.

If you or a loved one has experienced nursing home negligence, please do not hesitate to call us at (901) 322-4232 for a free, confidential consultation. Our attorneys have years of experience handling similar cases and winning big verdicts for our clients, and we would be glad to have the opportunity to help you, too.