Preventing Nursing Home Injuries
Nursing home injuries are an increasingly common problem. 20% of elderly accidents, including falls, occur in nursing homes, even though only about 5% of the elderly population live in nursing homes. Nearly 2,000 elderly people die each year from those falls and accidents, with even more sustaining injuries. While some injuries are unavoidable, quality nursing home facilities put safety measures in place and have extensive staff training to prevent these types of injuries for elderly nursing home residents.
Nursing Home Injuries A Serious Issue
Nursing home injuries are an alarming issue. Elderly nursing home residents are injured much more frequently than the general elderly population. While this issue could be explained by the fact that the types of people who live in nursing homes are more physically frail and more likely to be ill than the general elderly population, the alarming rate at which elderly are injured in nursing homes is not completely explained by this fact.
Some important facts about nursing home injuries:
- 25% of nursing homes receive citations for causing serious injuries and even death.
- Over 5,000 deaths are caused by nursing home negligence and injuries.
- 10% of the elderly in nursing homes suffer from bedsores.
- A resident at a nursing home is two times more likely to experience a fall than an elderly person not in a nursing home.
What Causes Nursing Home Injuries
Nursing home injuries can be the result of a variety of causes. One reason which we mentioned earlier is the fact that nursing home populations are frailer and generally less well than the general elderly population, leads them to be more susceptible to falls or injuries. Muscle weakness and walking problems are common issues among nursing home residents and attribute to about a fourth of injuries occurring in nursing homes. Nursing home residents are typically on some type of medication and are sometimes overmedicated. Some of these medications include sedatives, antipsychotics, and antianxiety medications and increase the risk for accidents to occur.
As many of 27% of nursing home falls and accidents are caused by obstacles or hazards in the nursing home facility. Wet floors, narrow stairs and steep grades, poor lighting, objects in the hallway, and beds at the wrong heights all make mobility a challenge for elderly nursing home residents.
Unfortunately, another cause of injuries in nursing homes is neglect or inattention of the medical staff. Many nursing home facilities are understaffed and experience high turnover rates. With limited staff on hand, many nursing home facilities have a difficult time properly monitoring patients and ensuring the nursing home is a safe environment.
Preventing Nursing Home Injuries
Many injuries in nursing homes could be prevented if nursing homes were properly staffed with enough caring workers to ensure a safe environment for elderly patients in nursing homes and a safe physical environment to reduce the risk of injury to those patients.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that nursing homes use a multi-faceted strategy to reduce the risk and occurrence of injuries in nursing homes.
This strategy involves:
- Individual attention and assessment for each patient, including injury risk assessment
- Consistent staff education regarding risk of injury and injury prevention strategies.
- Minimizing the use of medications that are most likely to lead to falls or injuries.
- Preventing over medication or chemical restraint through the use of system checks.
- Adding safety features for facilities and removing typical hazards.
- Programs to improve mobility, thereby reducing injuries, with exercise and vitamin D supplements.
- Nursing homes can reduce the rate of injuries occurring in the elderly nursing home population by following these CDC recommendations and additional safety measures.
- Additionally, nursing homes can create safer environments for the elderly by increasing staff numbers. Residents will be given better medical attention and care with additional medical professionals available to care for residents. While this solution might not be the most economical, adding more staff to nursing homes could reduce the rate of nursing home injuries substantially.
Additional nursing home medical professionals could:
- Assess the condition, safety, and mobility of the elderly residents more often.
- Prevent the development of bedsores by adjusting patients more often.
- More closely monitor the patients’’ physical & mental health as well as more closely monitor medications to prevent overmedication or medication injuries.
Nursing Home Injury Attorney
If you know someone who has been injured in a nursing home in Mobile, you may have a case. An experienced Mobile nursing home injury attorney, or personal injury attorney, can help you explore the potential causes of the nursing home injury to determine if the patient (or those left behind) can recoup some damages caused by the nursing home injury.