What causes nursing home patients to fall?

A previous post on this blog talked about how important it is for a nursing home's staff to do what it can to prevent its patients from falling. Because many of these patients are older and frail, what might have caused harmless bruising in a younger, healthier person can be devastating for the victim of a nursing home fall.

According to statistics still cited by state that borders Kentucky, each year, around 1,800 nursing home patients die in connection with a fall. Many others wind up with broken hips or other injuries that leave them unable to walk for the rest of their lives. Such injuries can, indirectly, hasten a patient's death just because their ability to move about and enjoy their lives is greatly diminished.

These statistics suggest that falls most commonly happen because the patient is experiencing some sort of underlying medical problem that makes it hard for them to get around safely. For instance, muscle weakness or trouble balancing can contribute to a fall.

The nursing home can address these sorts of underlying conditions with proper and prompt medical care, which can in some cases simply mean more exercise for a patient.

Another big factor when it comes to patient falls is the patient's own medication. Many of the drugs that elderly patients take are powerful, and they can therefore cause impairment in a patient's motor skills, judgment and other faculties that are important for being able to walk safely. Without the right supervision and monitoring in place, a patient on these medications is at risk for a serious fall.

Finally, oftentimes something is wrong with the patient's environment when a fall occurs. For example, as our previous post mentioned, bad lighting, slick spots on the floor or improperly adjusted or ill-fitting medical equipment can cause falls.

Many if not most of the common causes for patient falls can be addressed, or at least partially addressed, by a nursing home's staff. When a Kentucky nursing home does not take up this responsibility, and an injury results from a fall, the victim or the victim's family can seek to hold the facility accountable for nursing home negligence.

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