Hip fractures at a nursing home often occur to elderly residents due to understaffing and poor care. The Joint Commission considers hip fractures a “sentinel event.” This means that hip fractures are a patient safety event that results in death, permanent harm, or severe temporary harm. These events are significant because they are debilitating to residents, and they are often preventable. A resident who suffers hip fractures at a nursing home should know their rights under Pennsylvania and federal laws.
Factors that increase risk of hip fractures
Nursing home residents are greatly at risk for hip fractures and similar injuries. According to a 2016 article in the Journals of Gerontology, nursing home residents experience twice the risk of suffering a hip fracture than older adults who do not live in facilities. Several studies have found that quality indicators, such as poor staffing ratios, poorly trained staff, and the use of restraints are associated with a greater risk of falls. These conditions negatively affect resident care, and the result can be falls with hip fracture.
Other risk factors for nursing home hip fractures include:
Many of these risk factors can be reduced or prevented entirely. Residents who suffer a hip fracture at a nursing home should have their situation reviewed so that a qualified attorney can determine if it was preventable.
Complications of hip fractures
Hip fractures can lead to serious complications that include:
Hospitalizations – hip fractures require immediate medical attention and often require surgical repair. Residents who fracture a hip frequently have an expensive hospital stay. Residents can suffer from a negative surgical outcome, and the hospital stay can put them at a higher risk for infections.
Infections: Surgical site infections can require antibiotics and extend hospital stays. Sepsis, or the body’s life-threatening response to an infection, occurs in about 1 in 40 residents after geriatric hip fracture surgery. According to a 2017 article in the Journal of Arthroplasty, sepsis after hip fracture typically develops from urinary tract infections, pneumonia, or surgical site infections.
Functional decline: residents can experience loss of their ADLs, or activities of daily living. This means that the hip fracture can impair their ability to walk, transfer, and take care of themselves. It can take weeks or months for a resident to regain their physical function, and many residents never regain full-function.
Poor quality of life: Residents who suffer a hip fracture at a nursing home experience a negative impact on their quality of life. The injury may result in depression or the resident having a negative self-image. Loss of their physical function can limit their ability to participate in activities they used to enjoy.
Pressure ulcers (bedsores): residents who suffer hip fractures may not be able to move themselves independently to adjust pressure. When nursing home staff fail to turn and reposition a resident after a hip fracture, pressure can develop.
Blood clots: The American College of Chest Physicians classifies hip fracture surgery in the highest risk category for blood clots. These blood clots can develop in the legs after a hip fracture surgery. Sometimes these blood clots will break off and travel to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism.
Increased mortality: In a study of over 60,000 long-term nursing home residents, hip fractures were associated with substantial mortality, with 1 in 3 residents dying within the first 6 months.
Who can help if my loved one had a hip fracture while in a nursing home?
Hip fractures in nursing home residents result in significant pain and complications. These injuries are often preventable. If your loved one suffered a hip fracture while at a nursing home, they may be eligible for compensation for their expenses, pain, and suffering. Our attorneys offer a free consultation to review your case. We can help you to understand if poor care or understaffing was behind your loved one’s hip fracture. To learn more, call us today and speak directly with a lawyer who understands residents rights under federal and state law. We can help stand up for your rights during this challenging time.