Slip and Fall Accidents in Nursing Homes
As our loved ones get older, they require more specialized care. In addition to many health issues associated with aging, the risk of falling increases significantly with age. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities offer an environment that is supposed to be safer for elderly residents. These facilities should provide infrastructure to minimize the risks of accidents and should also have trained staff supervising and assisting the residents 24-7.
Despite the precautions that are taken in many nursing homes and assisted living facilities, falls are still a common occurrence. The average nursing home will see between 100 and 200 falls in a year. This figure could be higher as many falls go unreported.
Unfortunately, some nursing homes and assisted living facilities have far worse safety records and many more of their residents suffer falls that result in serious injury.
Falls do happen and they cannot all be prevented. However, some incidents are the result of negligence or malpractice on the part of an employee or the facility. In these cases, the nursing home or assisted living center may be held liable for the fall.
Nursing homes are supposed to assess the needs of a patient when he or she is admitted as a resident. Every resident has special needs and requirements. Each resident also presents different levels of risk. This assessment helps the nursing home design a care plan that is specific to the needs of the resident and takes into account the risks associated with that particular resident.
Residents should be assessed for issues such as:
- Mobility limitations
- Loss of balance and strength
- Taking medications that result in drowsiness, dizziness or poor reaction time
- Impaired vision
The nursing home should determine the best safety precautions to take in order to avoid a fall. This may include:
- The provision of specialized equipment such as mobility aids and walkers
- The assessment and adjustment of beds, chairs and toilets to a safe height
- The positioning of rails and grab bars
- Ensuring surfaces are cushioned.
Not every fall is preventable even in a facility with skilled staff and specialized equipment. However, if a fall occurs as a result of negligence on the part of an employee or the facility and your loved one is seriously injured, you may have a claim against the facility.
A good case for liability against a nursing home may involve:
- The nursing home’s failure to develop a satisfactory care plan based on the individual needs of the resident
- A failure to reassess and modify the care plan regularly
- A failure to provide the resident with appropriate care as outlined in the care plan
- A failure to use proper technique in handling of the patient e.g. moving patient from their bed to a wheelchair
- Understaffing of the facility
- Using unqualified or untrained staff
- Failing to remedy hazards in the environment such as wet floors, defective floors or inadequate lighting.
If your loved one was injured in a fall at a nursing home or assisted living center, you should speak with an experienced nursing home negligence attorney to evaluate your claim.