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Slips, trips and falls: Serious hazard for nursing home residents

When we must place a loved one in the care of a nursing home, we must rely on the facility to protect the physical safety of the resident from a wide range of potential hazards. Falls are one of the most common risks to a resident's safety in these environments.

In fact, recent research from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has revealed that nursing homes are also especially hazardous for the employees. According to OSHA, employees at long-term care facilities are 2.3 times more likely to be absent from work, due in large part to injuries sustained in slips, trips and falls.

If nursing home employees are more susceptible to falls than employees in other fields, it stands to reason that the older residents are more likely to suffer a fall, as well.

Resident falls in nursing homes

A nursing home resident fall generally will result in more severe personal injuries than falls suffered by younger individuals. In the worst-case scenarios, the injuries sustained in such falls are so severe that they result in the death of the resident. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1,800 nursing home residents suffer fatal injuries every year due to falls.

While some may argue that older people are more likely to fall, whether they live in nursing homes or on their own, the statistics indicate nursing home residents suffer falls at higher rates. The CDC reports that although only around 5 percent of all people over 65 years of age reside in nursing homes, approximately 20 percent of all fatalities due to falls in that demographic occur among nursing home residents. On average, nursing home residents suffer over 2.5 falls each year.

A recent study revealed one of the most common causes of resident falls is a loss of balance. Often, this occurs when a resident is moving without a walker or wheelchair, when he or she typically would use one of these devices.

In addition, factors in the nursing home itself result in between 16 to 27 percent of all resident falls. Potential hazards that can lead to falls include:

  • Insufficient lighting
  • Wet floors
  • Improper bed heights
  • Defective wheelchairs

Certain medications can also increase the likelihood that a patient will fall, particularly those that sedate the resident. As the dangers leading to falls are widespread, nursing homes should implement safety policies and procedures to ensure the residents receive the proper standard of care.

Hold negligent nursing homes accountable for resident falls

When a nursing home fails to ensure the safety of a resident and a fall occurs, the responsible parties should be held accountable. Nursing home residents are likely to sustain serious injuries following such falls, and costly medical care will likely be necessary to address those injuries. A skilled New York personal injury attorney is a valuable resource in such situations, to ensure the rights of the injured party are protected.