Falls in Nursing Homes Often go Unreported

4.20.16As each year comes and goes, the demand for long-term skilled nursing care increases in America, a nation with an aging population and with increased life expectancy when compared to prior generations. Yet as this demand increases, the supply of top-notch nursing homes in the state of Illinois has not grown at the same rate, which has led to some citizens being placed in homes with troubling track records of care, repeated violations of state and federal guidelines, and even visible instances of abuse and neglect.

The loved ones of nursing home patients often question what they can do to protect their family and to ensure that an appropriate level of care is provided in a Chicago-area nursing home. When a suspected incident is properly reported, it is easier for family members to learn about the condition that led to a possible injury and to address the facts with the staff, employees, and owners of a nursing home. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a number of nursing home abuse and neglect incidents go underreported every year which means that individuals including family members, friends, and loved ones may have no idea about potential harm done in a nursing facility.

Among all types of occurrences that may be neglect in a nursing home, the CDC states that falls often go unreported. The reasoning behind this is not always clear. In some cases, employees may fear punishment if they disclose a fall by a resident. In other cases, a fall may happen when a staff member is not around to observe it, significantly decreasing the odds of a reporting.

Falls are a dangerous fact of life in nursing facilities but one that does not need to happen. With the proper care, supervision, and assistance, nursing home residents should be able to move from one area of a facility to another without falling. Similarly, transfers from a bed to a chair, wheelchair, or other surface should be conducted in a manner that does not allow a patient to fall, preventing any injuries from happening by simply preventing the incident.

Yet despite the fact that falls are preventable, the CDC estimates that an average nursing facility sees one to two falls per bed every year. In a typical home with 100 beds, that means that 100-200 falls will occur in that facility alone. These falls may be minor and may not cause injuries but often, they can be severe, requiring medical treatment, hospitalization, or even leading to the death of a victim. Estimates indicate that somewhere between 50 and 75 percent of nursing home patients fall annually but that among those patients who fall, the average number of falls per year is 2.6 which illustrates that certain patients are at risk for falling, actually fall, and are allowed to continue falling without adequate intervention by those working in the facility.

 

Know that a fall in a nursing home is never acceptable and is even more troubling when injuries result. Approximately 10-20 percent of all falls cause serious injuries and two to six percent cause fractured or broken bones.

When these incidents happen and harm results, the employees, owners, and/or others associated with a nursing facility may face liability for their conduct or their lack of appropriate care and may be forced to provide the victim with compensation for damages.

Prior Blog Entry:

Why the Standard of Care Matters in Chicago Nursing Home Care, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, published April 4, 2016.

Resource:

Falls in Nursing Homes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, published June 30, 2015.