Falls at Virginia Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
Falls are one of the most common causes of injuries to elderly people in nursing homes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to three-quarters of elderly residents of nursing homes suffer at least one fall a year. Falls at Virginia nursing homes and assisted living facilities can cause serious injuries and result in lawsuits against these organizations.
The CDC states about 20 percent of nursing home falls cause serious injuries. Falls are also the leading cause of traumatic brain injuries. The high incidence of falls in residential care settings is a cause of concern for us as Virginia nursing home injury lawyers.
What Are the Main Causes of Falls in Virginia Nursing Homes?
- The Condition of Residents
Many elderly residents at nursing homes and assisted care centers suffer from conditions that make them more susceptible to falls. These include Alzheimers, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral vascular disease, vertigo, hearing issues that affect balance, peripheral vascular disease, poor sight, and diabetic neuropathy.
- Staff Negligence
The failure of staff to carry out regular checks on residents or to secure safety items like guard rails on beds can result in falls. Residents may be allowed to wander into dangerous places like stairways or staff members may not give them adequate oversight in showers or baths.
- Hazards in Car Facilities
Nursing homes and residential care facilities are meant to be safe environments for residents. Unfortunately, many suffer from underfunding. Poor lighting in hallways, a lack of safety equipment such as mats and grab-bars in bathrooms can cause falls. Some facilities leave trip hazards such as wires on floors or fail to keep elderly residents off slippery floors. Staff may fail to clean up spills or food left in dining areas in a timely manner, which can lead to serious accidents as well.
Nursing Homes Have Fall Protocols
It is important for nursing homes to address fall prevention in a proactive rather than a reactive manner. Well-run facilities should have fall protocols, and all workers should be aware of these policies. Additionally, these homes should have adequate staffing levels to ensure residents are monitored properly. Residents’ medical charts should record their likelihood of falling so as staff can take appropriate measures.
When Can Nursing Homes Be Held Liable for Falls?
Nursing homes are under the same liability as other businesses not to leave floors slippery or obstacles in hallways that can cause slip and fall injuries. However, facilities that offer round the clock care to elderly residents also may face medical negligence lawsuits if they fail in their duty. This can include a failure to fit bedrails correctly, causing a resident to fall out of bed or the failure to assist a resident into a wheelchair. Some homes fail to conform to regulations intended to safeguard residents from falls.
Virginia nursing homes and assisted living facilities face considerable financial pressures. Many struggle to find and retain experienced nursing staff. They may fail to address the needs of elderly residents with acute conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s who are more likely to fall over. On occasions, nursing homes fail to administer proper treatment to residents who fall, denying them adequate medical care. A 2005 study found up to 25 percent of falls at nursing homes lead to serious conditions such as fractures that require hospitalization.
If your elderly resident suffers an injury or loses his or her life in a nursing home fall, the nursing home may be held liable for the negligent actions of its staff members. Our Virginia nursing home negligence lawyers could look for certain indicators that demonstrate staff negligence or a failure to take proper precautions. A nursing home can be held liable for falls in the following situations:
- Failure to check and monitor residents
- Failure to audit a resident’s risk of falling
- Medication errors that may leave a patient vulnerable to dizziness and falls
- Failure to use equipment to protect residents from falls
- Failure to supervise residents while they are walking in the facility
- Inadequate staffing
- Improper training of staff and administrators
- Leaving trip hazards such as loose cables and obstacles on floors
- Failing to keep residents away from slippery floors or other surfaces
- Improper transportation of nursing home residents
- Improper positioning of patients on beds or chairs
- The provision of defective or damaged equipment such as walkers, canes or other mobility devices
- Allowing residents to wander hallways or walk out of a facility without supervision
- Intentional abuse of vulnerable residents
Contact a Nursing Home Negligence Attorney After a Fall in a Virginia Assisted Living Facility
Few things are as upsetting as a parent or another elderly loved one ending up injured at a care facility or a nursing home. We trust and pay for these facilities to care for our loved ones. Unfortunately, neglect and abuse are all too common in nursing homes. Staff seldom intend a resident to fall.
However, workers in nursing homes are often tired and overwhelmed. Some are inexperienced and lack proper training. As a result, many preventable accidents occur. Nursing home administrators often try to explain away these accidents as an inevitable consequence of being old and infirm. However, these facilities have a duty of care to every resident irrespective of their medical condition. If you believe a nursing home or a residential care facility should have done more to protect your relative from their fall, please call us today for a free consultation.