Elderly residents are at high risk of fall injuries in South Florida nursing homes

The family of a woman who was killed in a Florida nursing home fall has been awarded $114 million — a record verdict in Polk County, the Ledger reported.
The verdict has put the focus on the epidemic of nursing home falls in this country. The suit claims the home knew of the 76-year-old woman’s risk of falling and failed to take preventive measures. The patient fell within two weeks of being admitted to the home. She never recovered from a traumatic head injury, broken arm and other injuries. She was malnourished, dehydrated and suffering from bed sores when family pulled her out of the home in May 2003. She died several months later.

We make the often difficult decision to place our loved ones in a nursing home because we do not feel qualified to provide the kind of professional care necessary to keep them safe from harm. The average annual cost of nursing home care is $50,000 and we expect professional care and the protection of whatever quality-of-life is left to an aging family member.

Yet the prevalence of nursing home falls shows that far too many homes are failing in the basic task of ensuring a resident’s physical safety. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reports as many as 200 falls a year occur in the average 100-bed nursing home.

Facts about nursing home falls:

-About 1,800 nursing home residents die from falls each year.

-As many as three-quarters of nursing home residents fall each year.

-The average patients falls more than once. In fact, he or she falls 2.6 times per year.

Falls frequently lead to a decline in quality of life. Fear of falling, loss of function, depression, social isolation and increasing helplessness are common consequences of fall injuries.

Some argue that nursing home falls are common because of the failing health of residents. However, a closer look at the statistics reveals that only about one-fourth of falls are caused by a resident’s diminished physical ability.

Common causes of nursing home falls:
-24 percent of falls are attributed to muscle weakness, walking or gait problems of the resident.

-Up to 27 percent are caused by avoidable environmental hazards, including wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height and poorly fitted wheelchairs.

-Failure to properly administer medicine, especially sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs, are commonly blamed for nursing home falls.

-Other common causes are poorly fitted clothing and failure to provide proper walking aids and supervision.

Our Fort Myers nursing home neglect lawyers are dedicated to fighting for the rights of residents in nursing homes and assisted living centers throughout South Florida. We understand many people are reluctant to get involved. But we believe it is incumbent upon each of us to ensure the health and welfare of nursing home residents who too often are not in a position to speak for themselves.

If you have questions or are concerned about the conditions of an elder-care facility, call Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, Attorneys for the Injured, today for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. 1-800-DIAL-BLS

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