Falls in Nursing Homes

If you have placed a loved one in a nursing home or know someone who lives in one and visit them, you may be concerned about their safety and wellbeing. You have every right to expect the facility to be properly set up to prevent falls from happening; however, evidence shows that falls tend to be extremely common and that the results may range from minor — something that requires ice or a topical cream –  to major ones that result in the patient’s death.

Are nursing homes required to report if someone falls in their facility?

Hospitals and nursing homes are required by law to provide a safe environment for both their patients and residents, as well as for the family members and friends that come to visit. Despite this, falls still occur all too often at hospitals and nursing homes.

After a nursing home resident or hospital, patient suffers a fall, state and federal regulations recruiter that the family or power of attorney be notified after the fall. They also require that an investigation is conducted to determine the cause of the fall and whether or not any injuries were sustained. Following the investigation, the staff must create a plan to address the cause of the fall to prevent any future falls.

Are there different types of falls?

Typically, falls can be:

Mechanical – Such as when a patient falls out of bed or slips on a floor that is wet.

Anticipated Physiological – These falls are extremely common. The cause is an underlying condition such as dementia, having an abnormal gait, or due to the effects of medication.

Unanticipated Physiological – In these cases, a patient that shows no signs of a tendency to fall may suffer a seizure, faint, have a heart attack, or a stroke.

Behavioral – These tend to happen when the patient becomes agitated or unruly. There are even some instances when they fall on purpose.

  • Additionally, patients left to their own devices, nurses that fail to attend a call, or trying to get out of a bed that is in an elevated position can also contribute to the number of falls.

Common Nursing Home Falls

Some of the most common circumstances that cause nursing home residents and hospital patients to fall include:

  • The nursing staff failing to answer calls for assistance
  • The nursing staff failing to perform regular checks
  • The nursing staff failing to help the resident use the bathroom, and the resident getting up to go on their own so that they do not have an accident
  • The nursing staff failing to keep items that the resident needs within arm’s reach while the resident is in bed or in a wheelchair
  • The nursing staff failing to ensure that the resident receives appropriate medications
  • The nursing staff failing to recognize when a resident has elevated blood pressure, which can lead to dizziness when the resident stands up
  • Defective or improper wheelchairs and walkers
  • One member of the nursing staff trying to lift a resident without obtaining the assistance of another
  • The nursing staff failing to properly use a sit-to-stand lift transfer device
  • The nursing staff failing to manage a resident’s needs

Preventing Falls in Nursing Homes

Nursing homes should have fall prevention practices in place that may be carried out through an interdisciplinary approach. This should include a fall care plan. To ensure the prevention of falls, steps like these should be included in the fall care plan:

  • Patients should be tested for predispositions to fainting or blacking out.
  • Staff should keep residents comfortable and engaged, avoiding the need to get up and walk on their own.
  • Residents should be discouraged from going barefoot or with only socks. They should be encouraged to wear shoes with rubber soles that can either be tied or have straps that fit snugly and should not be slip-on.
  • Exercise programs that include balance, gait, and strength will help residents walk more securely.
  • Staff should assist in toileting as much as necessary.
  • All devices, such as walkers and wheelchairs, should be in a safe working condition.
  • More staff should be present at riskier times such as mealtimes.

Fall Management in Nursing Homes

Managing falls in nursing homes is essential if the residents are to enjoy a good quality of life. Falling ends up restricting the activities in which they can participate, leads to serious injuries, and may even end up in the loss of life.

If your loved one has suffered a fall in a nursing home, you need experienced legal help by your side. Make an appointment today to set up an initial consultation and talk about your case.