Falls occur more commonly among residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities when compared to their peers. There are more than a million nursing home residents in the United States. Some studies show that nearly 60% of nursing home residents fall each year.

Nursing homes must assess for risk of fall. Falls threaten the independence of our elderly population. Nursing home administrators know that falls in the long-term care setting leads to functional decline and increased length of stay. But falls are still far too common in nursing homes.

Past studies have shown that the average rate of falls in the nursing home is estimated to be 1.5 falls per nursing home bed annually. With over 15,000 nursing homes in the U.S., and over a million residents, the number is staggering.

Risk of falls in Nursing Homes

Older persons are at increased risk of suffering serious injuries in a fall. Falls that occur in nursing homes result in significant mortality and morbidity. Studies show that as many as 5 percent of falls among nursing home residents result in a fracture, with an additional 2 percent of falls resulting in a serious injury requiring medical attention.

These injuries can be especially devastating for those suffering certain types of injuries, such as hip fractures. It is generally recognized that persons experiencing a hip fracture during hospitalization have a greater risk of institutionalization and death compared with other community dwellers.

Sobering numbers about Nursing Home falls and fractures

  • The average nursing home has one to two falls per year for each bed in its facility. However, many more nursing home falls go unreported.
  • While data varies regarding fall rates and number of patients who fall, approximately 60 percent of individuals in the long-term care setting fall each year.
  • About 30 percent of persons who fall require medical attention.
    Fall-related injuries, such as hip fractures, increase the mortality rate within the first six months.

Common Causes of Nursing Home Falls and Fractures

Nursing homes must provide their residents with living environments that are reasonably safe from hazards that could lead to falls and fractures. Unfortunately, nursing homes sometimes put their residents at serious risk of injury. Some of the common causes of avoidable falls in nursing homes include:

  • inadequate staff to properly care for residents;
  • incorrect bed height;
  • inadequate lighting in hallways and stairwells;
  • lack of supervision after taking medications with dangerous side effects;
  • malnutrition and other conditions leading to physical weakness or disorientation;
  • wet floors;
  • missing or broken handrails;
  • unreasonable physical restraints;
  • medical equipment and other items obstructing hallways.

Restraints are not a proper measure for preventing falls and fractures

Another cause of fractures in the nursing home setting is the use of mechanical restraints. One study concluded that restraints were associated with continued, and perhaps increased, occurrence of serious fall-related injuries after controlling for other injury risk factors. The study results suggest the need to consider whether restraints provide adequate, if any, protection.

Fracture types and considerations

A bone fracture is a serious medical condition. Medical experts will consider several factors, including bone and location, condition of the overlying tissues (e.g., open or closed fracture) and orientation of the fracture (e.g., the fracture line…transverse, oblique, spiral).

Another important consideration, especially in the nursing home setting, is whether a fracture is the result of osteoarthritis and loss of function, as opposed to an acute fracture.

Contact McGrady Law about your loved one’s Montana Nursing Home Fall

Nursing homes must provide a care plan to address and meet the needs of its residents, including addressing risk of falls. When nursing homes fail in this regard, they should be held accountable.

To get a free consultation to see what your rights are for justice and compensation, contact McGrady Law today.