Schwartz Injury Law

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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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Chicago nursing home injury attorneysLong-term care facilities like nursing homes care for the most vulnerable among us. These facilities are therefore held to a high degree of accountability. Staff in nursing homes or assisted living facilities should always be on the lookout for environmental hazards that could injure a resident. A leaky ceiling which creates a puddle on the ground, for example, could cause a resident to slip and fall.

A fall like this may not seem dangerous to a healthy person, but an elderly person with compromised health may suffer serious injury from such a fall. A resident who falls and hits his or her head may suffer a concussion, the mildest version of a traumatic brain injury. Concussions can cause significant pain and cognitive problems. More severe brain injuries can cause permanent impairment.

Concussions in the Elderly Can Be Hard to Spot

Because many nursing home residents suffer from dementia or other cognitive impairments, they may not be able to report a head injury when it happens. If you have a loved one who suffered a blow to the head, make sure they receive the appropriate medical treatment. Symptoms of a concussion are often subtle and gradual, so do not rule out a concussion without a professional medical evaluation. Signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person but generally include

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Illinois nursing home abuse attorneysIf you have an elderly relative, chances are you often worry about their safety. Older individuals often have decreased muscle mass and bone density. A fall that might only result in minor bruising on a young person may cause several broken bones in an elderly individual. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 3 million elderly individuals are treated in emergency rooms for fall injuries every year. More than 95 percent of all hip fractures are caused by falling and falls are the most frequent cause of traumatic brain injuries. Falling injuries resulted in over $50 billion in medical bills in 2015 alone.

Remove Environmental Hazards to Help Prevent Falls

Understandably, all falls cannot be prevented. However, it is the obligation of every caregiver to take steps to prevent elder falls. If you have an elderly loved one, a few environmental changes may decrease the chance that he or she is injured or killed in a fall. Firstly, remove tripping hazards like clutter or loose electrical cords on the floor. Secure loose floor rugs with double-sided tape or remove them entirely. Repair or replace broken furniture or loose floorboards. Install nonslip mats and safety rails in the bathroom. Encourage your loved one to use his or her walker or cane if necessary. Lastly, make sure the lighting is adequate for your loved one to see his or her surroundings clearly.

Nursing Home Falls May Be a Sign of Neglect

Injuries from falling account for about 36 percent of theoretically preventable emergency room visits by nursing home residents. Not every nursing home resident who falls has been neglected. However, an unusual frequency of falls or falls that go unreported may be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect. Conditions that can cause falls to happen more often include:

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