More than 1.4 million people age 65 and older reside at a nursing home according to the National Center for Health Statistics. With that many elderly residents occupying nursing homes across the country – and an estimated 100 percent increase in occupancy by 2030 – injuries due to negligence are bound to happen. A high-level of nursing home injuries comes from falls – whether accidental or due to inadequate care and proper supervision. Roughly 1,800 people living in nursing homes actually die from falls each year, according to an article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. However, not all falls can be classified as negligent on the part of the nursing home. In any situation an accident can happen, but it is when the resident in question is not sufficiently assessed by medical personnel, or their level of care is insufficient that a lawsuit could arise. The following are a few signs to look for that could cause a person to fall at a nursing home facility:
- Any muscle weakness or walking problems that may exist
- Wet floors, poor lighting, incorrectly fitted or maintained wheelchairs
- Changes in medications – particularly drugs that affect the nervous system and brain
- Use of physical restraints may increase the risk of falling and may even cause muscle weakness and reduce a person’s physical functions
The Nursing Home’s Responsibilities
When a resident signs an admission agreement, the nursing home facility accepts a “Duty of Care” concerning the resident. This Duty of Care provides the resident with a minimum standard of care, including: a person’s right to freedom of choice; right to confidentiality; protection against defamation; and specifically protection against negligence and unsafe situations. The Aged Rights Advocacy Service provides a simple definition of Duty of Care that states, “becoming aware of problems that might be abusive, and responding to them appropriately.” If you, or someone you know, have suffered from a fall at a nursing home facility due to potential negligence, call Bentoff & Duber at 216-861-1234 or submit a contact form for a free consultation. About the author: Brandon Duber, a Partner with Bentoff & Duber Co., LPA, is a lawyer with proven experience in the courtroom and expertise in the areas of workers’ compensation, criminal defense, personal injury and medical malpractice law. He received his B.A. from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY and his J.D. from The Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland, OH.