A study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society found that two to six percent of falls in nursing homes result in fractures, or broken bones. While falling can signal a significant health problem, it can also be a sign of nursing home neglect or abuse.
Falls as a Sign of Negligence
Nursing home staff has a duty to exercise reasonable care for the safety of each patient. This duty includes ensuring that each resident under their care receives assistance with walking and transfers as often as necessary. The nursing staff must also provide the appropriate level of supervision to keep their patients safe and free from accidents. Finally, the nursing home staff must ensure that the patient’s living environment is free of hazards, including wet floors, poor lighting and poorly maintained wheelchairs. Providers must also ensure that each patient has access to the correct number of care providers he or she needs on a daily basis.
Additionally, nursing home nursing staff must be more vigilant in providing adequate fall prevention to individuals who are at high risk to falling. These residents commonly include individuals who are:
- Mobility challenged
- Suffer from dementia or are otherwise cognitively impaired
- Taking psychotropic medications
Unfortunately, nursing homes fail to meet the standard of care in preventing patient falls more often than anyone would like to believe. Such a failure constitutes nursing home negligence, and often leads to serious injuries such as hip fractures, skull fractures and even death.
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Fractures Can Lead to More Severe Injuries and Death
According to a 2010 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hip fractures can lead to long-term or permanent disabilities. They can also lead to increased mortality; one out of five patients with hip fractures die within a year of suffering the injury.
Falling itself is not the only cause of injury. Fear of falling can also lead to serious psychological and emotional distress. This is especially important to note with patients who have a history of at least one fall, as repeat episodes can lead to serious psychological impairment. The loss of independence due to an injury sustained in a fall can cause depression and social isolation.
The True Costs of Fractures
On average, the hospitalization costs for a fall are $17,500. That number increases for hospitalization for hip fractures. The costs jump from there if you take into account ongoing care, physical therapy, prescription medication and supportive medical devices. These costs skyrocket for individuals who suffer permanent disabilities or serious complications from injuries sustained in a fall.
While Medicare may pay some of these costs, the patient or patient’s family often must cover a significant portion of the costs. In instances where the fall and fracture were avoidable, it makes sense to seek compensation from the nursing home care providers who negligently caused the fall.
Contact us at (847) 869-9100 to make arrangements to discuss your case with our attorney today.