Falls are a serious problem in many assisted nursing home facilities and contribute to a large number of deaths and injuries every year.

Nursing home residents in Alabama and throughout the country fall down and hurt themselves frequently. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year, the standard nursing home with 100 beds reports between 100 to 200 falls. However, many falls that occur in nursing homes go unreported.

Falls often result in serious consequences for nursing home patients. The CDC states that approximately 1,800 people who live in nursing homes die from falling every year and approximately 10 to 20 percent of nursing home falls cause serious injuries. In addition to physical difficulties, those who fall in a nursing home may experience a decline in their ability to function independently and a reduced quality of life as well as depression, feelings of helplessness and social isolation.

What are some of the common causes of falls?

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, there are a variety of different intrinsic and extrinsic factors that can contribute to an elderly person's risk of falling. Intrinsic factors include things like chronic diseases, medication side effects, acute medical conditions and deconditioning from periods of inactivity.

Comparatively, extrinsic risk factors include environmental hazards, unsafe equipment and unsafe personal care items. Poor lighting, uneven floors, wet areas, improper footwear, unstable bed wheels and ineffective wheelchair brakes are all examples of environmental hazards that can create an unsafe environment for nursing home residents. According to the CDC, environmental hazards like these cause between 16 to 27 percent of all nursing home falls.

How can falls be prevented?

There are several strategies nursing homes can implement to prevent and reduce the number of falls that occur on their premises. According to the CDC, these include some of the following:

  • Nursing home staff members should be educated about common fall risk factors and what can be done to prevent these accidents.
  • Changes should be made in the nursing home's environment to make it easier for residents to get around shared areas and their own individual living spaces. For example, a nursing home may install hand rails in the hallways or lower the heights of the beds.
  • Any medications patients are prescribed should be thoroughly reviewed to understand their potential risks and to minimize their use.
  • After a fall occurs, the nursing home patient should be thoroughly examined to ensure that any underlying medical conditions are treated.

Getting help

Many people living in nursing homes in Alabama fall and sustain serious injuries. If you or one of your loved ones incurred injuries after falling, speak with an attorney to determine what you can do to protect your rights to fair and proper compensation.

Keywords: nursing home, abuse, injury