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Schwartz Injury Law

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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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Illinois nursing home negligence attorneysA small child learning to walk may get up and fall down dozens of times throughout the day without suffering any serious injuries. However, as a person’s body weakens with illness or age, falling down becomes much more dangerous. Falling is the leading cause of trauma-related hospital admissions and fatal injury among elderly individuals. If your loved one suffered a fall while living in a nursing home, you may wonder if anything could have been done to prevent your loved one’s painful injuries. In some cases, a nursing home resident’s fall injuries are directly caused by the negligent actions or inaction of the nursing home.

Nursing Homes Should Be Free of Environmental Hazards

Clutter in a nursing home is not simply unsightly, it is a major safety hazard. When boxes, medical equipment, clothing or other objects are left in on the floor, residents may trip over the objects and fall. Other environmental hazards that may lead to falls include spilled liquids, unsecured rugs, loose carpet, and electrical cords. Poor lighting and a lack of safety equipment may also contribute to resident falls.

Insufficient Assistance Increases the Risk of Residents Falling

Most nursing home residents need help performing everyday tasks, and some residents have more independence than others. One individual may be able to get in and out of bed, use the bathroom, and walk to common areas of the nursing home on his or her own while another resident may be nearly immobile. Nursing home staff should be aware of residents’ individual needs and provide appropriate care. When a resident does not receive the assistance he or she needs to safely move about, he or she may suffer a preventable fall.

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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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