Spinal cord injuries, more than most other types, have the potential to cause significant, profound and devastating disabilities and limitations. Nursing homes that agree to care for patients with spinal cord injuries have responsibility to ensure their patients receive the appropriate level of care. The state and federal government often pays much more for these patients to receive a higher degree of care, and Fort Lauderdale spinal cord injury attorneys know nursing homes that don’t provide it can be deemed liable if it results in further injury, loss of life quality or an untimely death.
It is possible some spinal cord injuries might actually be caused by negligent nursing home case, such as in a fall where aides or nurses failed to properly assist in toileting or getting in and out of bed.
However, it’s not among the more common injuries associated with nursing homes. More frequently, those with serious spinal cord injuries may be cared for – temporarily or permanently – in such a facility, but due to lack of mobility and independence and lack of sensation in certain areas of the body, they are more vulnerable to the same injury and illness risks all other nursing home patients face. This is especially true for those with quadriplegia, wherein all limbs are affected, as opposed to paraplegia, where only one’s legs are immobile. Those with a complete spinal cord injury (where there is a total severing of the cord) also are at higher risk than those with incomplete spinal cord injuries, as the latter may still retain some sensation and mobility.
As noted in an article last year in the Tampa Bay Times, many younger people who pursue spinal cord injury lawsuits to help cover medical costs prefer to receive assistance in their own residences, as opposed to staying in a nursing home. That’s because, as one Florida spinal cord injury patient revealed in his own experience, nursing homes can be rife with neglect and medical negligence. On top of that, they’re often depressing, given the average age of other patients and frequency of death. Said one 54-year-old who had survived 18 years with a spinal cord injury, a decent chunk of that time in nursing homes before securing in-home care: “If I went back to a nursing home, that would kill me.”
Spinal Cord Injury Attorneys Note Common Causes
A spring 2016 issue of American Nurse Today (the peer-reviewed official journal of the American Nurses Association), reported an estimated 12,000 new spinal cord injuries occur in the U.S. each year, with approximately 250,000 living with this condition at any given time. Most are between 16 and 30 and 8 in 10 are men. It’s the result of some kind of direct trauma to one’s vertebral column, cutting off or interfering with the messages the spinal cord would otherwise send to the brain. Motor vehicle accidents, serious falls and gun violence are the top causes. Among those over age 65, falls are the No. 1 cause.
Preventing Spinal Cord Injury Complications in Nursing Homes
The article noted that the top priorities in nursing care for prevention or reduction of additional injuries or complications for spinal cord patients (including those in nursing homes) includes:
- Careful monitoring of heart function;
- Making sure the person receives adequate ventilation and enough lung function;
- Ensuring stabilized blood pressure;
- Preventing and/ or quickly addressing infections.
This often necessitates at least hourly (if not more) monitoring and communication. Breathing and respiration is generally considered the No. 1 priority, and a patient’s ability and function should be checked on a consistent and timed basis, with additional action initiated if there are red flag warning signs of a potential problem. Spinal cord injury nursing home residents also need to be moved and/ or shifted in the bed to make certain they don’t develop bedsores or that those sores don’t worsen to a serious or fatal degree.
If someone you love has a spinal injury and has suffered complications as a nursing home resident and you suspect neglectful or negligent nursing home care may have been a causal factor, our spinal injury attorneys in Fort Lauderdale can help answer your questions in a free initial consultation.
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.
Caring for patients with spinal cord injuries, May 16, 2016, Vol. 11 No. 5, American Nurse Today
More Blog Entries:
Nursing Home Care Quality – Not Diagnosis – Predicts Hospitalization, Sept. 16, 2018, Fort Lauderdale Spinal Injury Nursing Home Neglect Attorney Blog