Preventing Hip Fractures from Accidental Falls in Nursing Homes
The staff at a nursing home or long-term care facility has a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of each resident that lives at the facility. When a resident falls, it is a likely sign of abuse at the nursing home. Some of these falls result in serious injuries, such as severe head wounds or broken bones. One of the most debilitating injuries that can result from a fall is a broken or fractured hip. If a resident is trying to cope with an injured hip, it makes the resident a more likely candidate to suffer another fall in the future.
Hip Injuries from Accidental Falls
Accidental falls are the cause of 95 percent of broken or fractured hip injuries in the elderly population. Women account for three of those hip injuries out of every four, due to their higher likelihood of developing or having osteoporosis. Advanced age enhances the risk of sustaining an injury to the hip as the result of a fall. Hip injuries almost always require some sort of surgery, which can ultimately bear life-threatening risks or complications.
A hip fracture is a partial break caused in the bones forming the hip. Most hip fractures occur to the femur, the long bone connecting the knee to the pelvis, at one of two locations. First, it is common for ball end of the femur, which fits into the hip socket, to crack just below the ball of the bone. It is also common to fracture a small portion of the femur that juts out slightly from the length of the bone. Regardless of where the fracture occurs in the hip region, surgery is often required.
Some surgery only requires the insertion of a few pins, screws, or metal plates to hold the bone in place while it mends. However, for more severe fractures, or fractures that disrupt or deprive parts of the femur from receiving an adequate supply of blood flow, a doctor will likely recommend partial or total replacement of the hip joint with an artificial hip. A partial hip replacement usually requires that the ball head of the femur be cut off and removed and then replaced with a metal prosthesis. A total hip replacement requires that the whole upper portion of the femur be removed and replaced with a metal prosthesis.
Treatment after a hip fracture also requires lengthy rehabilitation and pain management medications. The resident may require the use of a wheelchair or walker after surgery for quite some time, or possibly for the remainder of his or her life. Physical therapy is a crucial part of recovery and focuses on exercising the new hip. It takes approximately four to six weeks to achieve short-term recovery, and approximately six months on average to reach long-term recovery, allowing the resident to return completely to a similar lifestyle as before.
If you have a loved one who has suffered a hip injury as the result of a fall at a nursing home and you are concerned about nursing home abuse or neglect, please contact Robert Rooth today at (847) 869-9100.
Center for Disease Control, Hip Fractures Among Older Adults Statistics, available at https://www.cdc.gov/homeandrecreationalsafety/falls/adulthipfx.html.
Mayo Clinic, Hip Fractures Information, available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hip-fracture/symptoms-causes/syc-20373468.