Chicago Nursing Home Falls Continue to Worsen – What Should You Do?
When it’s time for our loved ones to require more care than we can provide at home, we want to ensure they are safe and well-cared for. Choosing a nursing home is a big decision and one that deserves careful consideration.
But with 36 million falls reported among older adults each year, resulting in over 32,000 deaths, it’s no wonder that nursing home falls are a leading cause for concern in Chicago. Because while only 5% of adults over 65 live in nursing homes in the U.S., 20% of deaths from falls occur in this population.
What does that mean for your decision?
If you have a loved one in a Chicago nursing home or are considering placing one there, it’s essential to be aware of the risks. Here are some steps to help prevent falls, keep your loved one safe, and what to do if a fall occurs.
Causes and Dangers of Falls for Elderly Patients in Nursing Homes
There are many reasons why elderly patients fall in nursing homes. Some common causes include medication side effects, changes in vision, muscle weakness, and balance problems. Too often, preventable falls and injuries occur because nursing home staff neglect to provide protection against these known fall risk factors, such as not giving proper assistance when getting out of bed or walking.
Falls can have serious consequences for elderly patients, including injuries such as broken bones and head trauma. Falls in nursing homes are the leading cause of death from injury for residents and are a significant cause of non-fatal injuries. In addition to the physical dangers, falls can also lead to psychological consequences, such as fear of falling again, making patients more withdrawn and isolated.
How to Prevent Falls
There are many things that nursing home staff should do regularly to prevent falls from happening. Some simple procedures include:
- Adequate staffing for proper monitoring and supervision
- Scheduled toileting
- Providing adequate assistance with transfers and walking.
- Keep floors clean and free of clutter
- Chair and bed alarms.
- Encourage patients to wear shoes with non-slip soles
- Make sure clothing and bedding are not loose or too long
- Use assistive devices like walkers or canes when needed
If you visit your loved one and notice that these basic safety measures are not in place, speak to the nursing home staff about your concerns. If they do not take your concerns seriously or fail to take action, it may be time to report nursing home abuse to the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and seek legal help.
Staff should also be aware of the signs of a fall, such as sudden changes in mood or behavior, increased confusion, or difficulty walking. If you see any of these red flags, let the staff know right away so they can take steps to prevent a fall from happening. But, again, if the staff does not take your concerns seriously, it may be time to take action.
Over-Medicating as a Risk Factor
One of the most common and preventable causes of nursing home falls is over-medicating residents. Many elderly patients are over-prescribed or given unneeded sedatives, antipsychotics, and other medications that can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and impaired balance. This puts them at a much higher risk of falling.
And it’s something that has been only lightly touched on in the media. One example is a 2009 story of a newly admitted nursing home patient who was forcibly given Haldol, an antipsychotic, against his will. Within eight hours, he hit his head and died from the fall.
If you’re concerned that your loved one is being over-medicated, talk to the doctor or nurse about your concerns and ask if there are any alternatives to their medications. You should also request a copy of the medication list to track what they are taking and watch for any changes.
What to Do If Your Loved One Has Fallen
If your loved one has been injured in a fall at a nursing home, you need to take action to protect their rights and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve. Unfortunately, too many facilities quickly blame the victim or downplay the seriousness of the fall, but you know better. You know your loved one, and you know how serious this is.
Did you know that less than 60% of nursing home falls were reported to Nursing Home Compare, an organization sponsored by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services responsible for reporting on nursing homes? Unfortunately, these were the findings of recently published research, leaving a considerable gap in the data, which means we don’t really know the true extent of the problem.
Nursing home injuries are a serious matter, and falls top that list of concern. We entrust these facilities to care for our most vulnerable loved ones, which can have devastating consequences when they fail. Being equipped with the correct information can help you take action to protect your loved one’s rights and ensure they receive the care they deserve.
Step 1: The first step is to request a copy of the incident report from the nursing home and any video footage that may have captured the fall. This will help you understand how the fall happened and whether or not it could have been prevented. It will also show whether the staff followed proper procedures.
Step 2: Next, you should also take photos of any injuries your loved one sustained. These will be necessary evidence if you decide to take legal action. And collect all medical bills and records related to the fall and injuries.
Step 3: Lastly, you need to speak to a lawyer with experience in nursing home injuries who can help you understand your loved one’s rights and options. Together, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the nursing home, and you may be entitled to compensation for your loved one’s medical expenses, pain and suffering, and more.
Take Action to Protect Your Loved One
If your loved one has been injured in a fall at a nursing home, don’t wait to take action. The sooner you get started, the better chance you have of protecting their rights and ensuring they receive the compensation they deserve. Contact Robert Rooth Law Firm today for a free consultation with a nursing home injury lawyer.