Thousands of occupants of nursing homes are injured in accidental falls every year. While slips and falls are dangerous for anyone at the best of times, they can be fatal for elderly and disabled individuals.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1,800 nursing home residents die each year in slip-and-fall accidents, while thousands of others have traumatic and debilitating injuries. There are many reasons why seniors slip and fall in nursing homes. As per the estimates of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gait problems and muscle weakness are the major contributors to these accidents in these facilities.
Falls caused by Neglect
The national public health agency also reported that about 16 to 27% of falls among nursing home residents are caused by environmental hazards, such as wet floors, poor lighting, poorly maintained or improperly fitted wheelchairs, and incorrect bed height.
Some of these accidents such as a slip and fall in a nursing home may fall under the category of abuse or neglect. Many seniors become victims of slip and fall accidents because they were not adequately supervised. If a senior falls and suffers injuries because of the negligence of nursing home workers, then the facility is liable for the fall.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also notes that certain medications given to senior occupants can increase the risk of falls and fall-related injuries. These medications have adverse effects on the balance and clarity of the patient. If any such medication is administered to a senior, they must be kept under strict supervision for the next few days.
Are nursing homes liable?
Whether or not a nursing home is liable for a fall depends on the cause of the fall. If a resident falls because of a hazard such as an improperly fitted wheelchair, then anyone responsible for fitting is liable.
Similarly, the building owner (if different from the nursing home), the nursing home itself, and even contractors responsible for maintaining the premises are potentially liable if the fall is caused by an environmental hazard that could have been prevented. However, if the fall occurs not because the wheelchair was poorly fitted but because it was poorly designed, the manufacturer will be liable.
Nursing home staff have the responsibility to check patients’ shoes for proper fitting, fit their wheelchairs, check their feet for sprains, sores, and breaks, and closely supervise them when they change medications. If a fall happens because a nurse or staff member failed to perform their duty, the nursing home is liable for negligent care.
It’s also the responsibility of the nursing facility to always take safety measures, such as keeping patients active, giving them vitamin D supplements, prescribing exercise regimes, and providing them with safety equipment like hip pads. If a fall occurs because the facility fails to take any of these safety measures, a negligence claim can be filed against them.
If an elderly loved one becomes a victim of a nursing home’s negligence, contact a slip and fall lawyer to investigate the circumstances of the accident and determine whether it could have been prevented.