A lawsuit recently filed in North Carolina alleges an elderly woman suffered in agony for 10 days with a broken hip after suffering a fall that went untreated and unreported by her nursing home.
According to local media reports, plaintiff was a known fall risk when she was admitted to the facility, and there was even an alarm on her wheelchair intended to notify staffers if she were to get up.
Plaintiff alleges she called for an attendant to help her to the bathroom. However, there was no response, and as nature called, she decided to get up on her own. As she did so, she slipped and fell. This resulted in serious injury.
It was only after 10 days, during which she constantly complained of being in pain, that the facility finally agreed to take her in for an X-ray. The results showed claimant had suffered a broken hip.
The lawsuit contends failures in staffing levels are at the root cause of this injury. Understaffing is what led to the lack of response when plaintiff needed to get up in the first place. Understaffing can further be cited as the catalyst for why there was a lack of response to plaintiff’s cries for help.
Claimant has since moved to a facility in New York to be cared for closer to family. It’s understandable that family would want their loved one closer to them so that they would be able to check in with her at any time and ensure the care she is receiving is adequate.
The reality is, falls in nursing homes are a significant source of patient injury. As noted by researchers at the Center on Aging at Florida Atlantic University, falling is not a normal part of aging, yet it is a major cause of morbidity – the leading cause of injury in adults 65 and older. Approximately 50 percent of nursing home residents sustain a fall within just one year of residence, and 25 percent suffer serious injury.
Florida ranks No. 2 in the nation for seniors injured in accidental falls. Not only does the fall itself result in serious injury, but the fear of a future fall can significantly impact a person’s functional quality of life. Nursing home injury as a result of falls are common, with the rates of falls at these sites approximately three times higher than those tat occur at elderly community dwellings.
Some of the common injuries sustained include:
- Fractures of the femur (leg);
- Fractures of the hip;
- Fractures of the humerus;
- Fractures of the ribs;
- Fractures of the wrist.
About half of all people who suffer a fall never regain their full level of functional capacity again. Not only that, but those who must be hospitalized for their injuries are at higher risk of suffering hospital-acquired infections and other complications. Mortality rates spike by 5 to 8-fold within three months among elderly adults who suffer a fall.
It is well-established that older adults are more prone to falls, given that they suffer decreased muscle tone, slower reflexes and increased postural sway. But nursing homes have a responsibility to be aware of those patients who are especially at risk of a fall and to take adequate measures to ensure those risks are minimized and adequate staff is available to address their needs.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Elderly woman suing Charlotte nursing home after unreported injury, Aug. 29, 2017, WSOCTV.com
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Federal Appeals Court Upholds Nursing Home Abuse Penalty, Aug. 28, 2017, Nursing Home Fall Attorney Blog