Falls: One of the Most Significant Threats to Elderly Nursing Home Residents

There are numerous factors that increase a person's risk for falls as they get older. Nursing home residents are often at particular risk for falls. Particularly, nursing home residents who have recently been admitted to the nursing home. They are in unfamiliar surroundings. They are often recovering from surgery. They are often taking medications that make them dizzy. Sometimes they have vision problems. Often they have issues involving weakness or problems with their balance. Many nursing home residents are not able to walk safely on their own.

Alarms and Monitors to Prevent Falls

Nursing homes have an obligation pursuant to federal law to provide all of their residents with adequate supervision to prevent accidents. Nursing Homes have a duty under state law in Ohio to provide their residents with a safe environment. Nursing home residents who are at risk for falls should have some kind of alarm to enable the staff at the nursing home to supervise them. Obviously, there is not enough staff in a nursing home to keep an eye on every single nursing home resident at all times. For example, in the evening, when many of the residents are in their rooms sleeping, there is simply not enough staff, not enough aides and nurses, to keep an eye on every single resident at all times. So the nursing home should put an alarm or a monitor on these residents. Some of these monitors work like pressure pads. In other words, the pad fits under the mattress or under the person's chair. If the person begins to get up, and takes their pressure off that pad, an alarm sounds. The nursing home staff is obligated to respond immediately to that alarm to check on that resident. If that resident is beginning to get up, the nursing home is required to respond to that resident and see what they need.

Oftentimes residents get up because they have to go to the bathroom. The nursing home should put them on a toileting program to anticipate their need to go to the bathroom.

Sometimes residents get up because they are hungry. The nursing home should anticipate their needs and provide them with regular meals and snacks. Nursing homes are obligated to give residents food that they enjoy and to try different options. They are also obligated to provide them with supplements when necessary to maintain their nutrition.

Some residents become hypoglycemic, and this can cause them to fall. For these residents, the nursing home is required to check their blood sugar on a regular basis.

Some residents receive regular dialysis. They are often left very weak after dialysis. They must be monitored particularly closely after dialysis to make sure that they do not fall.

Injuries from Nursing Home Falls

If an elderly nursing home resident falls they can suffer a serious injury including a fracture. Many elderly nursing home residents will not survive a fracture. As a result, if a nursing home resident suffers a fall which leads to a fracture, this can literally be a matter of life and death. Many nursing home residents suffer a fall which causes them a head injury and often a brain bleed. This can also be devastating to that nursing home resident and even fatal. Given the many serious consequences of a fall for a nursing home resident, a nursing home must take falls extremely seriously.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home that does not use alarms, you should think very seriously about whether that is the appropriate nursing home for your loved one. It is simply not possible for the staff at a nursing home to adequately supervise all of the nursing home residents, particularly in the evening when they're all in their rooms asleep, without the use of alarms or sensors. If a nursing home resident gets up in their room at night unattended, and that person cannot walk safely on their own, it is very likely that they will suffer a fall. This happens all the time.

The lawyers of The Dickson Firm have handled numerous cases involving nursing home residents who have gotten up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and suffered a fall that has led to a fracture which has been fatal for that nursing home resident. Likewise, The Dickson Firm has handled numerous cases where nursing home residents were left unattended in one or more areas of the nursing home, and fallen in the lobby, or the TV room, or the dining room and suffered serious, and sometimes fatal injury.

If your loved one has suffered a fall at a nursing home, which fall has resulted in serious injury to that individual, or tragically, even their death, you can talk with one of the experienced Ohio nursing home attorneys at The Dickson Firm at 1 (800) OHIO-LAW or (1-800-644-6529).

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