Fall Risk in Illinois and Other Nursing Homes is Highest During the First Month of Residency

One in five seniors and disabled individuals will reportedly suffer a fall injury within the first 30 days of entering a skilled nursing facility. Researchers from the University of Southern California reportedly found that nursing homes that employ a higher ratio of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) per resident had a lower fall rate. As part of a study, researchers evaluated data on about 230,000 Medicare and Medicaid patients who were admitted to almost 10,000 long-term care facilities throughout the nation in 2006. Approximately 21 percent of the new nursing home residents reportedly experienced at least one fall within the first month.

Researchers believe the lower number of new resident fall rates at some nursing homes was due to the higher number of CNAs available to assist them. According to study authors, CNAs often provide the most direct care to nursing home residents as they engage in activities that pose a high fall risk, such as using the restroom. Although long-term care facility falls reportedly pose a well-documented risk, researchers believe the recent study was the first to examine fall rates for newly admitted nursing home patients.

Researchers said it can be challenging to identify fall risks for newly admitted skilled nursing facility residents because so much is new and unfamiliar. In addition, many patients enter a care facility for assistance during rehabilitation from a previous injury. Managing fall risks for such patients is reportedly especially important in order to ensure that they may successfully return home without added delay.

According to the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 2,000 seniors die as a result of fall-related injuries sustained in a nursing home every year. In addition, many who survive a fall may suffer a hip fracture, head injury, or another permanent disability. In fact, about 20 percent of nursing home falls reportedly result in a serious injury. CDC data also states that approximately 20 percent of senior citizen fall deaths occur in nursing homes despite that only about five percent of seniors reside in a long-term care facility.

Although falls may be caused by underlying health problems, environmental and other hazards may also be the source of fall injuries in nursing homes. For example, poor lighting, wet floors, improperly fitted wheelchairs, and the wrong bed height can increase the likelihood of resident injury. Additionally, failure to monitor a nursing home resident after any changes in medication may also contribute to patient falls. According to the CDC, nursing home staff can prevent falls by ensuring the underlying medical conditions of residents are addressed, educating employees regarding fall prevention strategies, installing safety equipment like handrails throughout the facility, and remediating any other environmental factors that may affect a patient’s ability to move.

As this study demonstrates, nursing home residents risk serious injury and death when facilities fail to employ enough direct care staff. The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act required long-term care facilities throughout the state to increase staff numbers in an effort to meet the needs of all residents. Still, inadequate staffing levels are a common factor in nursing home abuse or neglect in Illinois. If you believe a loved one was injured or died as a result of nursing home abuse or neglect, you should discuss your concerns with a nursing home abuse and neglect lawyer as soon as possible.

If your parent or other loved one experienced a fall injury in a skilled nursing facility, please call Abels & Annes, P.C. at (312) 475-9596. Our experienced Chicago area nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are available 24 hours per day, every day of the week to help you protect the rights of your elderly and disabled friends and family members. To schedule a free consultation with a capable Illinois lawyer, do not hesitate to contact Abels & Annes, P.C. through the law firm’s website.

More Blogs:

Rally Held to Protest Understaffing and Low Worker Pay at Chicago Nursing Homes, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, November 29, 2012
Former Warrenville Assisted-Living Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing From Disabled Residents, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, November 27, 2012
Additional Resources:

One-Fifth of Nursing Home Residents Fall in First Month, by Robert Preidt, HealthDay News

Falls in Nursing Homes, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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