Preventable falls are an unfortunate plague in many nursing homes across Cleveland. The CDC reports that around 1,800 residents die each year from these incidents. If your elderly loved one experienced a serious Cleveland nursing home fall, the attorneys at Tittle & Perlmuter could offer legal guidance. Many things can lead to a fall, including:
The statistics on nursing home falls are shocking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 75 percent of residents fall each year in nursing homes, which is twice the rate for those 65 and older not residing in a nursing home. Up to six percent of falls cause fractures and as many as 20 percent of falls cause serious injuries. A pattern of falls in a nursing home is cause for concern. It means that residents either need to have more supervision or a better level of care.
Elderly and disabled individuals often have difficulty walking and getting around. Falls of nursing home residents result in further disability. Falls also reduce the patient’s quality of life and can even cause death. In addition, these residents can also suffer from an intense fear of falling. This can cause depression, isolation, or even feeling helpless. Ohio’s Nursing Home Resident’s Bill of Rights guarantees nursing home patients “the right to a safe and clean living environment pursuant to the Medicare and Medicaid programs and applicable state laws and rules adopted by the director of health.”
CDC statistics show that as much as 27 percent of nursing home falls are due to environmental hazards present in the facilities. These hazards include:
Falls most often occur while residents are:
Any fractures or other injuries due to falls in nursing homes must be legally documented and reported to family members or other authorities in Cleveland.
According to the CDC, using restraints on a regular basis doesn’t decrease the possibility of falls or fall injuries. The CDC explains that physical restraints “should not be used as a fall prevention strategy. Restraints can actually increase the risk of fall-related injuries and deaths.” Reduced physical function and increased muscle weakness can result from limiting a resident’s ability to move around freely.
A bed rail is a railing installed on a bed and connects the headboard to the footboard. The FDA defines bed rails as a tool “to help create a supportive and assistive sleeping environment in homes, assisted living facilities and residential care facilities.”
The FDA lists both the possible benefits and risks for those who encounter bed rails. Benefits include:
Possible risks to encountering bed rails include:
The safety guidelines for bed rails put out by the FDA discuss that if other environmental and treatment options are not working or do not align with the patient’s needs then bed rails are an option. The guidelines state, “close attention must be given to the design of the rails and the relationship between rails and other parts of the bed.” Prevention of falls is crucial. To do so, facilities must implement changes and educate staff. The changes and education should occur across all areas of nursing homes. This includes the organizational, staff and patient levels. Fall prevention is a multi-faceted challenge and requires a combination of medical treatment, rehabilitation, and environmental changes. The CDC includes the following as possible fall interventions:
An article from the Associated Press discusses why some nursing homes are moving away from using bed and chair alarms. They have sensors that go off when a resident moves in a certain way. The article explains, “A growing body of evidence indicates alarms and other measures, such as fall mats and lowered beds, do little to prevent falls and can instead contribute to falls by startling residents, creating an uneven floor surface and instilling complacency in staff.”
A recent Cleveland Plain Dealer story reported that Ohio only requires their nursing home staff to “provide a minimum 2.5 hours of direct care per resident per day.” Experts claim this is far too low a number and the state of Ohio should require around four hours per day. The most effective way to prevent falls is to have a diligent nursing home staff that is aware of resident’s typical schedules and understands reasons for why residents want and need to get up or move.
Nursing homes are potentially liable for a resident’s fall or fall injuries if the incident occurred because of the staff or administration:
Nursing homes have federal regulations that require the facilities to complete an assessment on residents the first time they come. Staff should update assessments regularly, including anytime medical conditions change. These assessments must include a care plan for the resident that take into account their current health issues and address their risk for a fall or fall related injury. These plans should also incorporate any assistance that residents will need to help reduce a risk of falling. This includes walking aids, proper height for beds, chairs and toilets, and appropriate placement of bars and handrails.
If a nursing home fails to provide proper assistance and adhere to the federal regulations, then they are responsible for a resident’s possible fall and injury.
In Cleveland, to be successful in a nursing home fall case, here are sources of evidence that you can use to help build a case. Consider gathering:
The dedicated lawyers at Tittle a& Perlmuter understand that a Cleveland nursing home fall is a serious matter. We are ready to listen to your case and advise you on the best course of action. Call today for a free consultation. We can also be reached online. Our response will be quick. Evening and weekend appointments are also available to be arranged, and we can come to you.