Schwartz Injury Law

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IL nursing home lawyerWhen a loved one suffers from a disabling injury or illness, he or she may need to move into a nursing home to get the round-the-clock care he or she needs. If you have ever placed a parent, grandparent, or other relative into a long-term care facility, you know just how difficult it can be. You may often worry about whether your loved one is getting the care and compassionate attention he or she deserves. While many nursing homes are full of dedicated, competent staff, other nursing homes miss the mark when it comes to resident care. One sign that a nursing home resident may be suffering from nursing home neglect or abuse is frequent fall accidents.

Nursing Home Fall Injuries

Children and young adults who slip and fall may walk away from the accident with only bruising and small scrapes. However, elderly and disabled individuals can be severely injured from even a minor fall accident. Nursing home residents who fall may suffer from broken bones, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Falling may also cause mental injuries. A resident who has experienced a painful fall may understandably be afraid of falling again. He or she may be unwilling to participate in physical therapy or group activities at the nursing home or even refuse to get out of bed. Falling can dramatically decrease a resident’s quality of life in a number of different ways.

Preventing Nursing Home Falls

Nursing home staff have a legal obligation to prevent resident fall accidents to the best of their ability. The facility itself should be equipped with safety features like hallway handrails, grab bars, raised toilet seats, and bed rails. Environmental hazards like clutter on the floor, spilled liquids, and poor lighting should be immediately remedied. Residents should not be subjected to unnecessary sedation through the use of chemical restraints such as antipsychotic medication or benzodiazepines. Not only do chemical restraints significantly increase the risk of falling, unwarranted chemical restraint of nursing home residents is in violation of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act and other laws. Residents should be closely monitored by staff at all times so that if a resident does fall, he or she will receive prompt medical attention. Frequent fall accidents and falls that are not reported by nursing home staff may be a sign that a resident is being neglected.

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Illinois nursing home injury attorneysFor a young, healthy person, falling down may only leave him or her with minor bruises. However, the older we get, the more serious falling is to our health. Nursing home residents are typically elderly or have disabilities that make them especially susceptible to injures during a fall. A fall that would only cause moderate pain in a 20-year-old could easily break the bones of an 80-year-old. When a nursing home resident experiences a preventable fall injury, it may be the nursing home staff who are to blame.

Falling Is a Major Concern in Nursing Homes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1,800 residents lose their lives due to complications from nursing home falls each year. Falling can result in lacerations, broken bones, internal organ damage, traumatic brain injuries, and more. Even if a nursing home resident survives a bad fall, he or she can be left with terrible pain that significantly reduces his or her quality of life. Due to the frailty of nursing home residents, nursing home staff have an obligation to do everything possible to prevent fall injuries. Sadly, some nursing home workers do not take this obligation as seriously as they should.  

Determining Fault in a Nursing Home Fall Accident

Understandably, nursing homes cannot prevent every injury that occurs in a nursing home. However, the staff, owners, and managers of nursing home facilities do have a responsibility to reduce problems that can lead to residents falling. Objects that present a tripping hazard should not be left in hallways or residents’ rooms. Loose rugs should be taped down. Broken floorboards or other maintenance issues should be fixed swiftly and residents should not be allowed near the hazard until it is thoroughly resolved. If a liquid is spilled on the floor, it should be cleaned up immediately. Furthermore, safety aids like handrails, nonslip mats, and bathroom handles should be used throughout the facility.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_broken-bones-nursing-home-elderly.jpgIf you have a loved one in a nursing home, you probably spend a lot of time worrying about him or her. You may worry about your loved ones medical conditions, the quality of care that they are receiving at the nursing home, how staff are treating your loved one, and the risk of injury. Nursing home residents almost always have physical issues which make them more likely to trip, fall, or otherwise injure themselves. Sometimes, a nursing home resident sustains a broken bone or fracture simply due to bad luck. However, frequent injuries, broken bones which are not promptly addressed by staff, or broken bones which do not heal properly can all be signs that your loved one may be experiencing nursing home abuse or neglect.

Causes of Broken Bones in Nursing Homes

Many residents have medical issues which make them more likely to become injured. The most common cause of nursing home injuries, including fractures and broken bones, is falling. Nursing home residents over age 65 are four times more likely to die after falling as compared to elderly individuals who live who do not live in a nursing home. A fall can be caused by environmental hazards like poor lighting, walkway obstacles, slippery floors, and loose rugs. When unchecked hazards such as these cause a resident to fall and be injured, the nursing home facility may be held legally responsible for the injuries the resident sustained. A resident can also suffer a broken bone when staff make mistakes while transferring the resident in and out of bed or their wheelchair. Sadly, another cause of nursing home broken bones and fractures is intentional physical abuse.

Seeking Compensation for Mistreatment

Nursing home staff have a legal obligation to provide a certain level of competent care to residents. Although staff cannot prevent every injury-causing accident from occurring, some injuries are avoidable. When nursing home staff fail to uphold their duty of care to their residents, they can be considered negligent. If nursing home negligence caused your loved one to suffer a broken bone or other injury, you may be able to hold the nursing home accountable for their wrongdoing through a personal injury lawsuit. You may be able to receive compensation for things like medical bills, physical therapy, prescription medication costs, pain and suffering, and more.

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Cook County nursing home injury attorneysThanks to advances in medical care and disease prevention, Americans live much longer lives on average than we did in decades past. As the “Baby Boomer” generation grows older, the demand for long-term care facilities like nursing homes grows too. Unfortunately, many nursing homes are struggling to keep up with the increase in nursing home residents. When nursing home residents are not properly supervised and cared for, they can fall and injure themselves. Some falls can even lead to a nursing home resident’s death or permanent disability. Read on to learn about the most common causes of falls and what you can do if you think your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home or other long-term care facility.

Slip and Fall Injuries Can Be Deadly

Just recently, an elderly WWII veteran died at a nursing home after staff left him alone without supervision. The man tipped backwards in his wheelchair causing a massive brain bleed that eventually resulted in his death. Sadly, this is not an isolated event. In fact, more than 1,800 nursing home residents die because of falls every year. There are many issues which can increase a resident’s likelihood of falling. These include but are not limited to:

  • Environmental hazards such as obstacles on the ground, wet floors, and poor lighting;
  • Faulty, broken, or poorly maintained equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, bedrails, and furniture;
  • Physical ailments which cause difficulty walking;
  • Dizziness or disorientation caused by medication;
  • Confusion related to advanced age, dementia, or Alzheimer’s Disease;
  • Muscle deterioration or weakness; and
  • Injuries or medical problems with a resident’s legs or feet.

Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse Can Lead to Falls

Sometimes a nursing home resident falls and there is no way to have prevented the fall. However, there are an astounding number of nursing home falls which could be prevented.

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Cook County nursing home injury attorneysWhen a nursing home resident slips and falls, it is not the same as when a healthy person falls. Nursing home residents are usually elderly and/or disabled, so a fall which would only leave a small bruise on a healthy person could do much more damage. While some falls are inevitable, nursing home staff have a duty to prevent as many falls as possible. They have a responsibility to their residents as well as to the residents’ families to keep the facility as safe as possible. When nursing home staff do not take this responsibility seriously, residents can fall and be injured or even killed.

Falls Continue to be a Problem in Nursing Homes Across the Country

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 1,800 nursing home residents pass away every year from injuries related to falls. Many of these falls result in serious damage such as and broken bones traumatic brain injury. Even those residents who survive a fall can be left with terrible pain and bodily damage that further reduces their quality of life. It can be hard to know for sure how many nursing home falls are the result of poor care and how many are simply due to a weakened resident. However, the CDC reports that nursing home falls occur twice as often as falls among elderly people not living in a nursing home. On average, nursing homes with 100 beds will report between 100 to 200 falls every year, but, according to the CDC, this is only a fraction of the falls which actually occur.

How to Prevent Falls in Elderly or Disabled Residents

According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the best ways to help prevent falls is to remove as many environmental hazards as possible. Obstacles like boxes, electrical cords, and other items should not be left in walkways. Loose rugs should be taped down or otherwise secured so that no one will trip over them. Loose carpeting and floorboards should be quickly repaired. Any liquids which are spilled should be quickly cleaned up so that a resident does not slip and fall. Safety precautions like nonslip mats and bathroom handles can also help prevent falls. If your loved one is in a nursing home and staff do not care enough to take these types of precautions, this is a red flag. A nursing home which does not care to prevent avoidable falls is likely mistreating residents in other ways too.

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