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Schwartz Injury Law

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Chicago Nursing Home Abuse LawyerMany people are shocked to learn just how dangerous fall accidents can be for sick and elderly individuals. Something as simple as slipping in a pool of liquid can lead to catastrophic and even deadly fall injuries. The CDC reports that one out of every five falls causes serious injuries like hip fractures and head injuries. Falling is the leading cause of traumatic brain injury. Sadly, over 42,000 people died in fall accidents in 2020 alone.

Nursing home staff should be well aware of the deadly risk falling poses to residents and how to prevent fall accidents. Unfortunately, not all nursing homes take the precautions needed to prevent avoidable falls.

Reasons Nursing Home Patients Fall

Nursing home residents typically need extensive medical care and extra help with everyday tasks. However, many nursing homes are understaffed. This can mean that residents do not get the help they need. Nursing home neglect can lead to fall accidents in many different ways, including:

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Cook County Nursing Home Slip and Fall LawyerWinter weather is notoriously bad in the midwest, and although Chicago is allegedly known as “The Windy City” for political reasons, the nickname suits the weather as well. Repeated days of snow, rain, and ice followed by weeks of sub-zero temperature and zero sunshine can make sidewalks hazardous to everyone. 

Residents of nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to slipping and falling, even on safe, stable surfaces. But when nursing home caretakers fail to manage nursing home outdoor premises, frail elderly residents can be put at risk of serious injuries when they fall on slippery surfaces. If you have a loved one in a nursing home who has recently suffered from a fall, an experienced Illinois nursing home attorney may be able to help you. 

Common Injuries from Nursing Home Slip and Fall Accidents 

Elderly residents often have lower bone density and are more prone to hurting themselves when they fall. They are also at greater risk of falling because of difficulty walking and maintaining proper balance. When nursing home residents wander outside or are allowed to walk outside with visitors, winter weather can increase the risk of slipping and falling. 

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Chicago nursing home fall injury lawyerFall injuries are a serious problem for older Americans, and in fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that the number of fatal fall injuries among the elderly has steadily increased in recent years. While it is true that people over the age of 65 typically experience a decline in strength, balance, coordination, and other physical abilities, this does not mean that older people are to blame for their own injuries. In nursing homes, for example, falls are often the result of neglect on the part of facility staff. In these cases, you or your loved one may be entitled to compensation.

Common Injuries From Nursing Home Falls

According to the CDC, about 20 percent of falls result in serious injuries. The most common include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) - When an older person falls and their head strikes the ground or another hard surface, they may suffer a concussion or contusion, or even a skull fracture and bleeding in the brain. In addition to the immediate risks of these injuries, they can sometimes have long-term effects, including memory loss and other cognitive impairments.
  • Broken bones - Hip fractures are the most common among older Americans, with more than 300,000 requiring hospitalization every year. Bones in the arms, wrists, and ankles can also break or fracture in a fall. Among older populations, broken bones can take especially long to heal, and injury victims may suffer from permanent impairment of their mobility.

The mental effects of fall injuries are also noteworthy, as victims may suffer from fear, anxiety, and depression, causing them to withdraw or avoid any kind of physical activity in the future.

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"ChicagoPutting an elderly or disabled relative in a long-term care facility like a nursing home is never easy. Many people worry about the quality of care that their loved one receives in a nursing home and what may be going on behind closed doors. Unfortunately, issues like understaffing and inadequate staff training have led to nursing home neglect in facilities across the country. When nursing home staff act negligently or the facility is not outfitted with appropriate safety measures, serious fall accidents may be more likely to occur. Falls causing serious injury or death may be the direct result of negligent care.

Falling is Often Deadly for Elderly and Disabled Residents

When a person with compromised health falls, he or she may sustain severe or even fatal injuries. Studies show that the most common cause of injury in elderly people is falling. Some fall accidents result in only bruises and abrasions. Other falls result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, or even death. Individuals who suffer from dementia, arthritis, diabetes, anemia, impaired sight or hearing, and neuropathy are at a greater risk of falling than those without these conditions.

How Can a Nursing Home Prevent Fall Injuries?

Staff should be aware of the physical and mental impairments suffered by the nursing home residents in their care. They should take these limitations into consideration when transferring the patient from one location to the next and helping the resident with daily tasks such as showering. Staff should also properly supervise residents – especially those with significant impairments. If a fall accident does occur and staff were not monitoring the resident’s whereabouts, the injured resident may be left suffering in pain for hours until staff discover him or her. Nursing homes should not contain hazards that make falls more likely to occur. Clutter in resident rooms, hallways, and common spaces, slippery floors, poor lighting, loose rugs, broken tiles, and other environmental hazards can lead to avoidable fall-related injuries. Wheelchair locks, walkers, canes, bed rails, grab bars, non-slip footwear and other safety measures can help prevent falls.

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysThe level of autonomy that a nursing home resident is capable of varies significantly from individual to individual. Most nursing home residents need help with at least one or more daily living tasks. Some residents are almost completely dependent on staff. They may be unable to get in and out of bed on their own or require help when moving from their bed to their wheelchair. Some residents cannot even sit up in bed on their own. Transferring a resident or moving a resident from one location to another must be done carefully. Serious injuries or death may be caused by improper transfers in a nursing home.

Procedures for Transferring Residents

Before moving a resident, staff should evaluate the resident’s current mobility, health concerns, weight, and other relevant factors and determine the best way to transfer the resident. There are tried and true methods nursing home staff should use when transferring a resident from one location to another. Staff should be trained on safe resident transfers and handling. Often, moving a resident requires cooperative teamwork of two or more people. Assistive devices such as bedrails, grab bars, transfer belts, and medical lifts may be used to aid in the transfer. Staff should move the resident slowly and carefully. They should take preventive measures to avoid injuring themselves or the resident when moving him or her. If a staff cannot safely transfer a resident on their own, they should ask for assistance from another staff member. When nursing home staff fail to take the appropriate steps during resident transfer, they may drop the resident or otherwise harm him or her.   

Injuries From Improper Resident Transfers

When a resident is moved improperly, they may be seriously injured. If the resident is dropped, they may sustain fractures, lacerations, traumatic brain injuries, spine injuries, and other painful injuries. Because many nursing home residents are frail due to age or illness, these injuries can be life-threatening. Injuries may also occur from staff handling the resident too roughly or misusing assistive devices. If your loved one was injured or passed away due to injuries sustained during an improper transfer, you may have a valid nursing home negligence claim. You may be able to hold the nursing home responsible for your loved one’s preventable injuries and recover compensation for your damages.

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