Nursing home injuries are defined as any type of physical harm that occurs to an elderly person while they’re residents at a long-termcare facility. Nursing home residents are obviously more prone to injury risk, especially due to falls. Families place loved ones in nursing homes, so they get the around the clock care they need, but unfortunately, injuries still happen. We look at some of the most common injuries and what constitutes abuse or neglect.
Common Nursing Home Injuries
As we get older, we become more prone to injuries, especially from potential “hazards” that weren’t viewed as such years before. To make matters worse, injuries we do get take a lot longer to heal. Here are some of the most common injuries that nursing home residents suffer from.
- Bedrail Injuries – Bedrails are important to have because they keep residents from falling out of their beds and prevent injuries that could occur from doing so. However, if bedrails malfunction, they can cause harm to the resident. For example, bedrails can make it difficult for elderly people to get out of their bed if they need to. This can result in them falling out of bed. Also, residents can suffocate or even go into cardiac arrest if they become trapped between the mattress and bedrail.
- Bedsores – Bedsores can be the result of laying in the same position for an extended period. This can cause skin damage, necrosis (death of skin tissue and cells), and nasty infections. Residents of nursing homes who are bedridden need to be consistently monitored and checked for bedsores. It’s the responsibility of staff members to alter their position often and apply the proper treatments needed to avoid bedsores.
- Spinal Injuries – Spinal cord injuries are mostly caused by falls. These injuries are severe and can cause the resident to have difficulty breathing, paralysis and loss of bowel control. This is due to the impairment of the spinal cord, which blocks important signals from the brain from reaching other parts of the body.
- Broken Bones – Broken bones are also injuries most occur due to a resident falling. As people age, their bones weaken, making falls much more dangerous.
- Concussions – Concussions are brain injuries caused by trauma to the head. Although concussions usually aren’t life threatening, they can result in discomfort and loss of memory for the resident. Any trauma to a resident’s head needs to be thoroughly monitored by nursing home staff.
- Infections – Infections occur from bacteria entering a person’s body one way or another. This can be through the air or through open wounds or sores. Common cases of infection in nursing homes include pneumonia, influenza, skin, urinary tract and respiratory. Nursing home staff members are responsible in protecting residents from infection to the best of their ability by using both proactive and reactive measures.
How Injuries Occur & What is Considered Abuse or Neglect?
Nursing home injuries can happen in various ways. Obviously, accidents happen and can be the reason for an injury. What’s important is to determine if an injury occurred by accident or happened because a staff member intentionally abused or neglected a resident. Both nursing homes and their staff members can be found liable if their residents were intentionally abused or neglected. Examples of nursing home abuse include situations where staff members hit a resident as well as when staff members handle residents in an aggressive nature. Nursing home neglect is when residents are not properly cared for in the long-term. Examples of neglect include situations where staff members fail to address health issues/concerns regarding a resident as well as failing to protect residents from hazards or danger.
What to do if Your Loved One Suffers an Injury in a Nursing Home
If a loved one is injured while staying at a nursing home, it’s important to thoroughly review what happened and how the injury occurred. If there are any signs or red flags that point to possible abuse or neglect, it should be reported immediately. Document the injury and try to speak with anyone who was around to witness the injury take place. Be sure to get in contact a reputable law firm that specializes in nursing home abuse and speak with them about what happened.
It can be very difficult to have to place a loved one into a nursing home, but it may be the only option to get them the care and attention they need. If your loved one becomes injured while in the care of a nursing home, be sure to thoroughly investigate what happened and contact an experienced attorney to get their input on whether you have a potential case.
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.