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"Falls Crisis" in Nursing Homes Examined

Safely You published the 2022 State of Falls Report this week examining the impact that falls have on the US Health care system, specifically nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Nursing home neglect lawyers have long advocated that falls are a public health issue for seniors, especially those who do not receive proper care. The report includes survey results from over 400 executives and care providers, as well as over 1,000 adults over age 42 to assess how senior living communities approach fall management, and the impact of falls regarding patient safety and costs. A nursing home neglect lawyer shares information regarding this important issue to help families learn about falls in nursing homes, understand signs of neglect, and the steps to take when neglect is suspected.

Falls are the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries for older adults. According to the report, falls cost Medicare, Medicaid, and out-of-pocket payers over $50 billion a year. Even more important, falls have a high physical and emotional cost to residents and their families. Falls in older adults above age 65 can start a landslide of health declines. In fact, 25% of falls in senior living result in the resident requiring a higher level of care, such as hospitalization. Emotionally, over 40% of surveyed respondents who experienced a fall reported feeling shame and anxiety.

Most Falls in Senior Communities Are Unwitnessed

According to Safely You data, 95% of falls in senior communities are unwitnessed. This means that no staff member was present at the time when the resident fell. Nurse understaffing lawyers represent that this statistic speaks volumes about nursing home understaffing. Insufficient staffing in nursing homes has been a black eye for the industry for many years. Repeated calls from advocates and experts have for minimum staffing requirements have mostly fallen on deaf ears.

According to a 2020 study published in The Journal of Nursing Home Research, adequate nurse staffing levels are imperative to residents’ care outcomes. Studies reviewed showed that an inadequate number of nurse staffing to residents affects both the quality of care provided to residents as well as fall prevention supervision and activities.

They identified that residents are most likely to fall between the hours of 5am – 8am. This time is particularly challenging in nursing homes, as nurses and other staff are actively engaging in care delivery, such as passing medications and providing morning care, and a time that resident needs are typically higher. Staff that are preoccupied with tasks coupled with residents with high needs can result in a greater incidence of resident falls, according to a nursing home understaffing lawyer.

Recent analyses of national staffing data during the COVID-19 pandemic revealed that nurse shortages at many nursing homes became even more severe during this time period. A report by the New York Attorney General’s Office in January 2021 decreased that staffing levels in New York decreased to especially dangerous levels in some homes.

Chronic Understaffing Affects Falls, Basic Quality

Most nursing homes do not provide enough nurse staffing to ensure basic care quality and fall prevention. During the 2017-2018, three-quarters of nursing homes almost never met CMS expected RN staffing levels, per a study published in Health Affairs. Ultimately, nursing home residents bear the brunt of this understaffing by not receiving the supervision and fall prevention activities needed to keep them safe. Nursing homes that do not employ enough nurses frequently fail to implement a falls management program to prevent and mitigate resident falls with injury. These homes frequently lack a culture of safety, including specific work processes and team approach, that are the foundations for fall prevention. Nursing home neglect lawyers can help families of residents who have been injured by a preventable fall at a nursing home.

Common Nursing Home Fall Injuries

Nursing home residents are susceptible to falls and may be more likely to suffer significant injuries from falls than younger, healthier adults. Common injuries for nursing home residents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) – traumatic brain injuries, such as a subdural hematoma, are serious injuries commonly caused by a fall. TBIs can result in significant morbidity, often affecting cognitive function, speech, and mobility. TBIs can also result in death, especially for older adults
  • Hip Fractures – According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nearly 95% of hip fractures occur as the result of a fall. Older adults with hip fractures are 3 – 4 times more likely to die within one year after surgery than the general population.
  • Other Fractures – nursing home residents might suffer from fractures of their spine, forearm, humerus, femur, or hand during a fall.

Many Falls Go Unreported

Nursing homes are required to self-report falls to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and these reports are used to provide the public information on the nursing home’s quality data. The Center for Medicare Advocacy released a 2020 report that looked at how well nursing homes self-report fall injuries. The report found that only 57.5% of falls with major injury are self-reported by nursing homes. The report was able to determine this number by a review of Medicare hospital admissions claims, which demonstrated a far greater number of falls than what the nursing homes self-reported.

Contact Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers to Get Help Today

The nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm have extensive experience litigating cases against understaffed nursing homes. We offer a free consultation to help you understand your legal options and the timeframe you have to act. Call today 888-789-3161 today to speak directly to an attorney, complete the online form on this website to learn how we can help.


Contact the Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers at Our Firm

The nursing home neglect lawyers at our firm understand the plight of the nation’s nursing home residents. No one should be subject to neglect and substandard care in long term care facilities. Our attorneys will partner with you to take a stand against underperforming nursing homes and seek compensation for their injuries. Call us today or send us a message to speak directly with an nursing home neglect lawyer.

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