Attorney, Zeb Ogueri

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Nursing Home Falls

Among older adults, falling is a frequent occurrence. More than one-third of people aged 65 and older fall each year and fall-related injuries are sometimes fatal. Both fatal and nonfatal fall injury rates increased sharply with advancing age. Older adults who live in nursing homes spend the majority of their time at home. Nursing homes must ensure that the residents do not fall and injure themselves. However nursing homes are more interested in making profits than the welfare of the residents. Each year, many elder residents fall and injure themselves at nursing homes across Georgia and the US.

Most fall injuries are caused by falling on a level surface or from a standing height rather than from falling down stairs or off ladders. Compared to older adults living in the community, nursing home residents tend to be older, frailer, and more cognitively impaired. People in nursing homes are particularly susceptible to falling, and the rate of falls among nursing home residents is 2 to 3 times the rate for community-dwelling counterparts.

Fracture is among the most prevalent injury outcome from a fall. The most serious and disabling fall-related fracture is hip fracture. It can be fatal at times. Those who survive often experience significant disability, limited mobility, and reduced quality of life.

Nursing homes have a duty to identify the risk factors and remove such risk factors to eliminate the chances of elder residents falling and injuring themselves. Fall risk factors can be categorized as personal or environmental. Personal risk factors are the characteristics of the individual such as age, a past history of falls, being female, level of functional abilities and/or impairments, and having chronic conditions. For older adults living in nursing homes, environmental factors most often concern fall hazards in and around the home and include tripping hazards like throw rugs and clutter, slippery surfaces. absence of grab bars or stair railings, poor lighting or unstable furniture. The risk of falling increases with the number of risk factors present and the occurrence of many risk factors increases with age.

Prevention of falls requires education of the nursing home staff in all aspects of environmental hazards and the awareness that falling may be an indication of other underlying problems.  Immediately upon admission of a resident, the nursing home should conduct a fall assessment risk analysis and, if necessary, institute a fall prevention program. Nursing homes must analyze the effectiveness of each intervention in the fall prevention program.

If your elder relative has been injured in a nursing home fall, speak to an experienced Georgia nursing home attorney. A nursing home fall signifies nursing home neglect. Your elder relative must be compensated for the pain and suffering. In case the fall is fatal, you can claim compensation from the nursing home under the Georgia nursing home statute. Remember no nursing home will admit that negligence on their part was the reason for the fall. You must prove that the fall was a result of negligence on the part of the nursing home.