Falls at nursing home facilities are one of the major causes of injuries among elderly residents. As we age, our bones and joints become much weaker and less flexible. Our eyesight and hearing suffers, our reflexes diminish and infirmities such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease strike a large percentage of individuals over the age of 65. Nearly any kind of mishap or fall can result in a serious injury to an elderly resident or patient who suffer from any of these conditions including broken limbs, fractured hips and head injuries. In fact, falls account for 40% of all nursing home fatalities in the US with about 1,800 deaths attributed to falls each year.
Many of these falls are preventable, however, and nursing homes are not immune from liability when their negligence is a substantial contributing factor to causing injuries to a resident. If your loved one was injured in a fall that you suspect was caused by the nursing home’s negligence, contact attorney Paul Tetzel who has successfully had nursing home facilities held responsible and has obtained substantial compensation for injured nursing home residents.
Responsibility of Nursing Home Facilities
Nursing homes, assistive living centers and others that cater to the elderly are subject to a vast array of state and federal regulations pertaining to medical care, safety, staffing, recreational activities and hygiene. When a resident enters the facility, the staff is required to formulate a health care plan that includes the resident’s medical condition, medications, mental and physical disabilities, special needs and safety concerns. If a resident has fallen before, or needs assistance ambulating, then special attention should be directed to preventing any recurrences. Also, the health plan needs to be periodically revised to reflect the aging of the resident and any new health concerns. A failure to do so may lead to a fall that might otherwise have been prevented.
Nursing homes are held to a high standard of care. If it violates a regulation, then negligence may be attributed to it if led to an injury. Regulations that are applicable to a nursing home include those promulgated by the ADA, local and state building codes and safety codes. An attorney who wishes to handle nursing home liability matters should be versed in premises liability, product liability and medical malpractice.
A facility can be held liable for any of the following causes of a fall:
- Slippery floors
- Poor lighting
- Leaving items on floors that present obstacles
- Failure to have handrails on stairs
- Defective stairs or steps
- Failure to provide assistive devices in bathrooms or on beds
- Poorly maintained wheelchairs
- Staff poorly trained in transporting or moving residents
- Inadequately adjusted bed and chair heights
- Sedated residents who walk unassisted
Understaffing, poor hiring practices and failure to monitor staff are a chronic problem in nursing homes and may be the major cause of most falls and other negligent and abusive practices leading to injuries. Along with holding a nursing home liable, there may be any number of other parties legally culpable for a fall. Many facilities contract with third parties for staffing needs and their conduct should be examined to see if they followed negligent hiring practices or failed to disclose certain unlawful conduct of its contractors to the facility.
Preventing Falls in Nursing Homes
You can be proactive in keeping your loved one safe and reduce the risk of a fall by following these simple suggestions:
- See that the bed has grab bars and an alarm that goes off if your loved one tries to get out of bed alone.
- Have your loved one engage in exercises or physical therapy to improve strength, coordination and balance. Regular walking can improve endurance and strength and give the resident a greater sense of confidence and dignity.
- Ensure your loved one knows how to call for assistance.
- Review prescriptions and side effects so that the staff knows that your loved one needs assistance after its administration.
- Make sure the facility is well-lit and that broken stairs and steps are repaired.
- Test out the wheelchair she or he uses to be sure it is safe and maintained.
What an Attorney Can Do for You
Nursing homes are insured and any claim made against one is usually vigorously defended by a team of well-experienced lawyers representing the insurance company. Accordingly, it is essential that you have an attorney who is knowledgeable and has the resources to meet the inherent challenges whenever you sue a well-financed company for substantial compensation.
Attorney Paul Tetzel has been representing the rights of abused and injured nursing home residents for years. To properly bring a viable injury claim against a nursing home for a fall that has resulted in serious injuries or death, his office will conduct the following:
- Interview witnesses to a fall or injury
- Examine the injury site
- Review the documentation or investigation of the injury as conducted by the facility
- Determining if the resident’s health plan was followed and if not, whether that failure contributed to the fall
- If the health plan had been modified to reflect the claimant’s medical condition or current needs
- If safety measures or precautions were in place that could have prevented the fall
- Reviewing what medications if any had been administered to the claimant before the injury
- Analyzing the mechanism of the injury
- Retaining safety and other experts who can determine if specific regulations were violated
Contact nursing home attorney Paul Tetzel if you suspect your loved one was injured by the negligence of the nursing home. Time is usually of the essence in such cases so a prompt consultation could mean the difference between receiving considerable compensation or none at all.