Researchers propose modest changes to prevent nursing home falls

October 31st, 2012 - by DKRPA

A group of researchers has found an incredibly logical and obvious-sounding reason for why nursing home falls occur: it’s because the patient loses his or her balance.
However, the reason as to why they lose their balance in the first place is a bit more complicated.

First, the study: it may be hard to believe, but until recently there was little research done on slip-and-falls in nursing homes. Many of the incidents are either misremembered or poorly documented by medical staff members; and even if they were perfectly remember, the visual replay of a slip-and-fall would give researchers and safety officials much more to learn from.

So this group of researchers from Canada recognized the problem and put cameras in to a long-term nursing home to study falls as they occurred. The results they found pointed to a gray area in nursing home care.

The study concluded that even though 75 percent of patients used a walker or was in a wheelchair, only 20 percent of the patients involved in the 227 falls were walker- or wheelchair-bound during the painful incident.

So why the wide disparity in percentages? Well, part of the reason is that some of the patients just don’t use their walker of wheelchair.

However, there also seems to be a shortage of walkers and wheelchairs at nursing homes. At the same time, patients are labeled as “having” these things when really they are just in the queue to receive one. If the patient were to be seriously injured due to a fall and the nursing home that is supposed to be taking care of them “gave” them a walker or wheelchair (when they really just ran out of supplies), the home could be liable for the pain and suffering caused to the patient.

Researchers are now working on some simple things to reduce the impacts of the injuries suffered by fall victims at a nursing home. One such change would be rubberized floors that could reduce the impact of a fall by 35 percent.

Source: NPR, “Loss Of Balance Is Leading Cause Of Elderly Falls,” Jessica Stoller-Conrad, Oct. 17, 2012

Nursing home accident litigation can be complicated, so consider all of your personal injury options before making a decision.