The Importance of Routinely Evaluating the Risk of Falling in an Ohio Nursing Home

One of the greatest dangers that a resident of a nursing home can face is the danger of falling. While all falls cannot be prevented, proper assessment of a resident’s fall risk is an integral part of a proper Plan of Care. This assessment needs to be constantly re-evaluated based upon the changing circumstances of the individual resident. While an initial fall assessment may have been proper upon the admission of a resident, the failure to reassess the resident when a change in circumstances has occurred such as; a first fall in the facility, a change in mental status, a change in medications, or continued decline in vision is neglect which can lead to serious injury or even death.

The National Safety Council estimates that persons over the age of 65 have the highest mortality rate (death rate) from injuries. Among older adults, injuries cause more deaths than either pneumonia or diabetes.

The rates of fall-related deaths among older adults rose significantly over the past decade. 15,800 people 65 and older died from injuries related to unintentional falls; about 1.8 million people 65 and older were treated in emergency departments for nonfatal injuries from falls, and more than 433,000 of these patients were hospitalized (CDC 2005). Unfortunately, our understanding of the true extent of this danger is handicapped as these documented statistics fall short of the actual number since many incidents are unreported by seniors and unrecognized by family members or caregivers.

Alarming Statistics

  • Annually, falls are reported by one-third of all people 65 and older.
  • Two-thirds of those who fall will fall again within six months.
  • Falls are the leading cause of death from injury among people 65 or over.
  • Approximately 9,500 deaths in older Americans are associated with falls each year.
  • The elderly account for seventy-five percent of deaths from falls.
  • Up to 40% of people who have a stroke have a serious fall within the next year.
  • Nearly 85% of deaths from falls are among people 75 and older.
  • More than half of all fatal falls involve people 75 or over.
  • Among people 65 to 69, one out of every 200 falls results in a hip fracture, and among those 85 or over, one fall in 10 results in a hip fracture.
  • One-fourth of those who fracture a hip die within six months of the injury.
  • Approximately 25 percent of community-dwelling people 75 or over unnecessarily restrict their activities because of fear of falling.
  • After adjusting for age, the fall fatality rate is 49% higher for men than for women.
  • Women are 67% more likely than men to have a nonfatal fall injury.
  • Rates of fall-related fractures among older adults are more than twice as high for women as for men.
  • About 72% of older adults admitted to the hospital for hip fractures were women (CDC 2005).
  • 50% of elderly, living in a nursing facility, suffer a fall each year, and approximately 1800 die.
  • In a 100-bed nursing home, there are 100 to 200 reported falls each year. However, this is quite likely to be a significant underestimate. (Rubenstein LZ. Preventing falls in the nursing home. Journal of the American Medical Association. 278(7):595, 1997.)
  • The fall incidence in nursing home elderly is three times time rate for non-nursing home elderly.

 

These statistics highlight the danger that falls pose to residents of nursing homes. As stated earlier, all falls cannot be prevented, however safeguards can and should be utilized in those residents who are a fall risk. Such nursing interventions can be: lowering the resident’s bed; putting fall mats around the bed to decrease the chance of injury if a fall occurs; utilizing bed and chair alarms to notify the staff that a resident is attempting to get up and walk when they should not be attempting this activity without assistance; setting up a regular toileting program to reduce independent attempts to utilize the bathroom because of the resident’s urgency to avoid soiling themselves and staff unavailability to assist them to a bathroom. These are but a few of the possible interventions that can be utilized to reduce the risk to a nursing home resident.

If you have a loved one in a nursing home, check with the nursing staff to make sure an accurate and updated fall assessment has been performed. If a fall risk is present, make sure fall interventions have been put in place to reduce the chance of harm to your family member. If your family member was a fall risk and these steps were not taken or the risks were ignored, your loved one has been neglected. This is a form of nursing home abuse in Ohio.

To learn more about falls in an Ohio nursing home or care facility, please visit http://www.stopohionursinghomeabuse.com or call 1-800-297-9191 for a free consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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