Should I Contact a Lawyer After a Nursing Home Fall?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 36% of hospital emergency room visits for long-term care residents are due to falls. The average assisted living facility accounts for 100 to 200 falls each year. Unfortunately, a nursing home fall can cause serious problems effecting the quality of life, disability, and reduced independence. Of course, as our population ages, the CDC estimates by 2030, nearly 3 million people will live in assisted living facilities.
About 20% of these falls can be prevented by improving controllable environmental factors. These factors include poor lighting, wet floors, and incorrect bed height. According to the CDC, only about 5% of seniors live in assisted living facilities, but they account for up to 20% of the deaths due to falls. But many times, the last nursing home fall was not the first fall. The CDC estimates that each elder citizen falls 2.6 times. In the end, about 1,800 senior citizen die each year from a fall.
Several factors lead to slip and falls in assisted living facilities or nursing homes. But sometimes the seniors living in assisted livening facilities are less mobile. With debilitating health issues, they may have less mobility. Unfortunately, negligence accounts for a disproportionate number of falls in assisted living facilities.
When a new senior citizen is entering a new facility, assess the likelihood of falls per patient too.
- Determine the risk factors of the patients to make any needed adjustments.
- Check for adequate lighting.
- Make sure all floors are not wet.
- Check that the bathrooms have handles on the walls. The floors should have non-slip padding and seating.
In 1987, the United States passed the Nursing Home Reform Act. The Act defined basic rules to regulate the how a facility can receive federal funding. The Reform Act outlines the guidelines to create an environment that protects the senior citizens. Additionally, the law generally states that the health a senior should not decline from preventable actions. The Reform Act outlines basic human rights that must be enforced and states all seniors have a right to:
- Social Services pertaining to Medical treatment
- Basic healthcare services (primary and dental)
- Medication has to administered in accordance to what their doctor has defined
- Dietary needs as outlined by the healthcare professional
- Mentally challenged oriented healthcare solutions and support
- Basic rights to privacy
- Fair and just treatment
Also, the federal government defines the requirements of the staff of assisted living facilities. All assisted living facilities are mandated to have a licensed nurse available 24 hours a day. Next, each federally funded nursing home must have a licensed nurse on duty for eight consecutive hours each day.
Furthermore, a two year study conducted by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee found 30% of the facilities in the United States had violations of the mandates outlined by the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987. These violations may amount of negligence. But remember that many signs of abuse are time sensitive. Visit your family members often to ensure their safety. Additionally, they will love to see you.