Slip and Fall Injuries In Nursing Homes and
Long Term Care Facilities
Florida Slip and Fall Lawyer
A slip and fall can happen anywhere and it can happen to anyone. However, these accidents are more common for elderly people, which means nursing homes and long term care facilities have to take measures to prevent them from happening. Slips and falls are the leading type of accident occurring in nursing homes and other long-term healthcare facilities. In addition to the alarming frequency of these accidents, the injuries sustained in slip and fall accidents can be very serious, requiring a long time for recovery or leading to the onset of debilitating, or even life threatening, complications. Alan Sackrin, an experienced nursing home slip and fall attorney, knows all too well, even a minor fall can be devastating to an older person. Broken bones, hip fractures, bruises, cuts, sprains and head injuries are all possible outcomes.
The CDC has reported that approximately 1,800 nursing home residents die each year as a result of a slip and fall accident. Thousands more suffer serious and disabling injuries as a result of a slip and fall accident.
The CDC report finds that the most common causes of nursing home falls are:
- Muscle weakness and walking or gait problems account for about 24% of the falls in nursing homes.
- Environmental hazards in nursing homes cause 16% to 27% of falls among residents. Such hazards include wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height, and improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs.
- Medications can increase the risk of falls and fall-related injuries. Drugs that affect the central nervous system, such as sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs, are of particular concern.
- Other causes of falls include difficulty in moving from one place to another (for example, from the bed to a chair), poor foot care, poorly fitting shoes, and improper or incorrect use of walking aids.
All Nursing Homes and Long Term Care Facilities Should Have a Fall Prevention Care Plan in Place
A fall prevention care plan is a multi-disciplinary tool where various specialized disciplines (nursing, physical therapy, occupation therapy, treating physician, recreation aids, etc.) get together to come up with a multi-disciplinary approach to the problem. When developing a fall prevention plan, the risk factors should be analyzed that cause or increase the likelihood of a slip and fall accident. These risk factors come from a combination of factors:
- A facility's physical design, layout, use and maintenance play a major role in contributing to slips and falls.
- Environmental factors such as weather, lighting levels, floor composition or level changes.
- Human factors among the elderly in a long term care setting such as mobility, mental alertness, medications and continence level.
Ideally, an "at risk" profile will be developed to enable individualized care plans to address the prevention of slips and falls among residents. Successful implementation of the care plan requires appropriate communication of these risk factors and ongoing fall prevention education for staff.
A care plan for fall prevention may include the following:
- keeping the floor free of debris or dangerous objections
- providing strengthening of a patient's muscles through physical therapy
- providing gait orientation and training through physical therapy
- evaluating whether medications are causing lethargy, disorientation or dizziness
- providing medications to help increase or prevent the further loss of bone density
- providing assistance with ambulation, which can range from personal assistance to a walker, depending on an individual's ability to ambulate safely
- implementing routine toileting schedules so a patient does not have to get up from bed to go to the bathroom by himself or herself
- bed alarms to alert the staff when the resident is getting up without needed assistance
- providing a low bed or bed with floor pads and safety cushions
- bed rails on the beds for patients who, because of dementia, insist on getting out of bed without using the call bell. Bed rails should have safety cushions to prevent patient entanglement.
- hip protectors or pads to cushion a patient during a fall
- wheelchair alarms to alert staff when a resident is getting out of a wheelchair
- wedge cushions to prevent a resident from sliding out of a wheelchair
It is much easier to focus on preventing falls than to recover from the serious consequences of a fall and the benefits of preventing slips and falls in nursing homes and long term care facilities are significant and can result in optimal quality of care and quality of life for residents.
Quick Slip And Fall Facts:
Slip and falls are the second leading cause of injuries and deaths after car accidents. Every hour an older adult dies as a result of a fall. The most common injuries resulting from slip and falls include, herniated disc, head injury and/or a knee injury. Learn more from Alan Sackrin, an expert slip and fall lawyer.
Want to Know More?
Since 1982, Alan Sackrin has represented clients throughout Florida in recovering monetary damages for slip & fall, trip & fall, and other premises liability injuries. Alan is a Board Certified Civil Trial Expert that strives to maximize the amount of compensation his clients' receive for their claim. Alan brings a high-level of skill and knowledge to his slip and fall cases and he offers a free initial consultation.
Related Slip and Fall Topics
Please feel free to read our other slip and fall (trip and fall) related articles and fact sheets, including:
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Learn More: See Our Slip and Fall Resource Page