Comedian and Actress Phyllis Diller recently passed away at the age of 95, following a decline in her health that was marked by a fall in which she injured her wrist and hip.
While there is no indication whatsoever that there was any negligence involved in her death, Delray Beach nursing home attorneys know that falls can be incredibly dangerous for the elderly.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that falls are the top cause of death from injury among people who are older than 65. What’s more, about 30 percent of suffer some type of serious injury from such incidents. These might include a deep cut, a hip fracture or a head trauma – any one of which can ultimately result in death.
We know that falls among the elderly are common whether they are in assisted care or not – more than double the rate of the general population. The latter has a fall in about 43 out of every 1,00 people. Compare that with those older than 75, and those figures increase to 115 falls for every 1,000 people.
The rate is even higher for nursing home residents. A 2004 study published by the UCLA Multicampus Program in Geriatrics and Gerontology indicating that there were about 1.5 falls per nursing home bed each year. The study found that when patients lived in an assisted living community center, falls were less likely to occur. Nursing homes, however, had a poor track record with regard to preventing falls. In fact, a nursing home fall in Delray Beach could be a clear sign of neglect – particularly if the facility is slow to obtain medical assistance for the patient. Sixty-five and older nursing home residents are four times more likely to die of injuries related to a fall than those who live elsewhere.
We do understand that nursing home residents are more likely to be more frail in the first place – and therefore more susceptible to serious injury from falls. However, the fact is that most falls in nursing homes are preventable, and yet they account for about 36 percent of all hospital emergency room visits from nursing home residents. It’s estimated that about 1,800 nursing home patients die each year as a result of fall-related injuries.
In some cases, it’s not even that the patient has fallen, but rather that they have been dropped. This is particularly common for individuals who are not independently mobile – or are at least somewhat limited in their mobility.
Nursing home staff members are supposed to determine a patient’s fall risk on a regular basis, and take appropriate action when necessary. Those residents who may have a history of falls should be protected using alarms on beds or chairs to let staffers know when the patient is trying to get up without help.
Some fall incidents related to neglect or negligence can be caused by the following:
–Facilities that fail to offer assistance or provide special bathing equipment, chairs, grips or stands;
–Facilities that fail to prevent certain obvious hazards, such as slippery floors, faulty wheelchairs, cluttered hallways or living spaces and poor lighting;
–Shoes that don’t fit correctly or failure to offer the proper walking aids;
–Failure to properly prepare to transfer someone into and out of bed or to the restroom or other activities;
–Stairways and walkways that aren’t properly maintained;
–Facilities that don’t properly train staff or don’t have enough staff to provide proper supervision;
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.