Articles Posted in Falls in Nursing Homes

In an effort to help seniors and families better evaluate and choose the right nursing home, the federal government has recently improved the Nursing Home Compare website, according to a recent article in Forbes.

As our Maryland nursing home injury blog has previously discussed, the Nursing Home Compare website is a web service listing around 16,000 Medicaid and Medicare-certified nursing homes around the county on a Five-Star Quality rating system—that compares and contrasts the quality standards on both short-term and long-term care.

The newly improved Nursing Home Compare website will reportedly feature 21 new criteria that help to measure the quality of care each resident will receive at different nursing homes and facilities around the country. The government will now include valuable experience from nursing home patients in both short-term and long-term care facilities, making it available on the website. It will make any complaints about a nursing home available, such as nursing home negligence or abuse, providing the necessary information.

The Nursing Home Compare’s new criteria will replace a set of 17 criteria and will focus on the specific and crucial issues affecting nursing home residents today, like pressure sores, infections, nursing home falls, pain, and general health and well being. The new criteria will also discuss the different percentages of nursing home residents who have experienced physical restraint, claim to have experienced pain that is severe to moderate, and who have been given vaccine for pneumonia.

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The Mid-Hudson News Network has recently reported that a series of nursing home abuse investigations by the New York State Attorney General and the State Office Medicaid Inspector General has led to the discharges and surrendering of allegedly abusive and negligent registered nurses in Liberty and Rhinebeck, New York.

In one investigation, a Long Term Care Community Coalition report claimed that registered nurse Myrna Siegel, who was working at the Sullivan County Adult Care Facility, physically and verbally abused patients by allegedly holding residents down and calling them offensive names. In another case Siegel reportedly threatened a resident with death who was unwilling to take his medication. After the investigation, Siegel reportedly gave up her license.

In two other nursing home abuse and neglect cases investigated by the New York State Attorney General, Stephen Thomas and Christopher Post, two certified nurse assistants at Ferncliff Nursing Home, were involved in the nursing home fall of a 94-year old patient who broke his arm during the nursing home transport. Thomas allegedly asked Post to claim that he helped move the patient with him, as he was alone when the nursing home injury occurred. Both aides received unconditional discharges and surrendered their CNA certificates.

As our Maryland nursing home injury attorney blog has reported previously, according to the National Counsel on Elder Abuse and the NCCNHR, types of nursing home abuse often found in homes and facilities include physical, verbal, emotional and psychological, as well as neglect, abandonment, intimidation or exploitation.

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In a recent Hartford County nursing home lawyer injury blog, our attorneys discussed the problem of falls in nursing homes, with over 300,000 individuals over the age of 65 experiencing a hip fracture every year, often leading to injury or even death.

According to a recent University of Maryland School of Medicine study, hip fractures continue to be a major challenge among older individuals and will continue to grow rapidly as our population ages. The study discusses the opportunity available for the medical community to help prevent falls, by intervening and taking precautions with the elderly population.

The study recommends the following interventions:

• Screening for and treating osteoporosis in elderly patients, especially elder men who are rarely diagnosed for osteoporosis, even after an osteoporotic fracture.
• Nutritional interventions have proven to be effective in preventing hip fractures, including the appropriate levels of vitamin D and calcium, as the majority of elderly individuals who are at-risk for falls and fractures have a deficiency in key nutrients.
• Behavioral exercises that include physical activity encouraging walking, weight-beating activity and resistance training have been linked to the reduction of nursing home falls and fractures.

• Other prevention strategies to decrease falls include reducing the number of medications, especially sedatives, sleeping pills, antihistamines, or psychoactive drugs, as well as modifying an elderly person’s home to avoid fall hazards, especially with a person who has previously fallen or is at-risk for falling.

The study hopes that by implementing fall-related interventions, future generations of elderly individuals will be better able to handle the traumatic falls without injury because of better bone health and strength. Also, the study states that with continuing research, experts will be able to identify new approaches to the treatment and rehabilitation of individuals who have suffered from hip fractures in order to improve quality of life and reduce the problem of fall-related injuries on individuals, their families and on society as a whole.

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Our Baltimore nursing home injury attorneys have been following a recent University of Maryland School of Medicine study, published in the American Geriatrics Society’s Clinical Geriatrics Journal, stating that over 300,000 people over the age of sixty-five in the United States will experience a hip fracture every year, making it the second leading cause of hospitalizations for older persons.

As our attorneys discussed in a related Maryland nursing home blog post, traumatic injuries involving nursing home falls are a major concern for elderly individuals and seniors in nursing homes around the country. Hip fractures are frequently the result of a nursing home fall or minor trauma, or when the bone becomes fragile and deteriorated to the point that it cannot hold the weight of the person. By the year 2040, it is estimated there will be an increase of 500,000 annual hip fractures.

Hip fractures challenge the quality of life for older adults, as it can lead to mortality, restricted mobility, and decline in strength, lean body mass, and bone mineral density, as well as depression and constant pain.

According to the study, 18-33 percent of elderly patients with fractured hips will die within one year of their hip fracture, with 13.5 percent dying within the first 6 months. The study also found that those who survive the hip fracture will experience a reduction of mobility, and will have problems functioning on their own, with only 50-60 percent of hip fracture patients recovering their pre-injury walking capabilities in the first year following the fracture. Many of the patients who were completely independent in their daily activities were found to have developed new dependencies after the fracture of the hip.

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A Charleston nursing home has recently been sued in two separate wrongful death lawsuits, according to a news development that our Baltimore nursing home negligence attorneys have been watching, after two residents died at the home due to the home’s alleged negligence and abuse.

The Charleston Gazette reports that Teays Valley Center nursing home has been sued by the daughter of former resident Anoway Rose Smith, who according to the lawsuit, suffered from nursing home abuse and negligence that led to bedsores, weight loss due to dehydration and nursing home falls.

The lawsuit states that Smith resided at the nursing home four times between August 2009 and February 2010, during which time she sustained systemic nursing home abuse and neglect that led to her death on February 23, 2010.

In a second lawsuit filed against Teays Valley Center, the home is also being accused of causing the wrongful death of another resident. Shirley Osburn has filed the lawsuit, claiming that the her husband John Osburn died as a result of severe nursing home abuse and negligence while residing in the home.

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According to a recent Los Angeles Times report from the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting, the United States needs to prepare itself for the growing number of elderly people with dementia and other mental illnesses—as the first group of baby boomers are turning 65 this year.

The problem, according to the report, is not due to an increase in mental illness with older people— but rather that 20% of this country’s population will be 65 and older by 2030. This will be a 12% increase from now.

The average life expectancy is also increasing with seniors, so elderly people who suffer from mental problems like dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease are living longer, with illnesses that can cause forms of behavior that are aggressive, with disorientation, delusions, nursing home wandering and other behavior, leading to harm or resident injury.

A recent Queen’s Medical Center study in Honolulu, Hawaii, found that the number of senior patients with mental illnesses receiving emergency treatment has spiked, with a 30% jump from 2008-2009. Many elderly patients were reportedly brought into the hospital by caregivers or family members who were unable to deal with the severe symptoms of the mental illnesses, and were exhausted or overwhelmed by the caregiving. The study found that emergency room treatment often occurs after many attempts of local placement for the senior.

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In a recent Talbot County, Maryland nursing home lawyer blog, our attorneys discussed a devastating nursing home wandering case, that was allegedly caused by negligence and resulted in the resident’s wrongful death.

Nursing home wandering frequently occurs with residents who are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, and suffer from confusion and disorientation. It is important for nursing homes to recognize residents who are at-risk for nursing home wandering and falls to prevent patient injury or wrongful death.

In another tragic nursing home wandering case, a home was recently fined over $20,000 after an elderly blind resident with dementia wandered from the Kernersville home and drowned in a puddle around 200 feet away from the facility.

The resident reportedly approached the staff in the home’s lobby three times late in the evening, each time in a disoriented state, wanting someone to take her across the creek to the next county. The staff reportedly took the resident back to her bed each time, where she remained until they did the 2 a.m. bed check.

According to the state investigation, the resident left the building sometime between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. The alarm on the door did not turn off, as it had been reportedly deactivated so staff could go outside for smoking breaks. The staff allegedly neglected to turn the alarm back on.

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According to a shocking Miami Herald expose that our Hartford County, Maryland nursing home abuse attorneys have been following, nursing homes throughout Florida are being accused of horrific cases of elder abuse and neglect. The series of articles in the Herald highlight an alleged breakdown in the state’s nursing home enforcement system—leaving thousands of residents in conditions that are both dangerous and decrepit.

The Herald spent a year examining assisted living facilities and found that as the number of homes have increased to accommodate the state’s major elderly population increase, Florida has failed to protect the very people it was meant to safeguard. Although the number of new nursing homes has totaled 550 in the last five years, the state has reportedly dropped necessary home inspections by 33%, allowing homes with the worst abuse and neglect offenses to remain open.

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration oversees 2,850 facilities, and has allegedly neglected to monitor nursing home operators for abuse or neglect, investigate nursing home reports citing dangerous practices, and shut down the homes with the worst offenders—many of which lack necessary staffing, disregard nursing home regulations and deprive their residents of the most basic needs, like food, water and safety.

The investigation found that nearly once every month, residents die from nursing home abuse and neglect. In one incident, a 75-year-old dementia resident, who was at high risk for nursing home wandering, walked away from the Pinellas County nursing home, and reportedly had his body torn apart by alligators. In another home, a 71-year-old resident with a mental illness was burned so severely from being left in a bathtub that was carelessly filled with scalding hot water, that he died from a result of the burns.

Many nursing homes, according to the article, are also regularly caught using restraints that are against the law, including ropes and powerful tranquilizers. In one assisted living home a 74-year-old woman was bound for over six hours, with restraints allegedly wrapped so painfully tight that the device her tore into her flesh, causing her death.

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In yet another nursing home fall and wrongful death lawsuit that our Frederick County, Maryland nursing home attorneys have been following, a Texas nursing home is being sued by the daughter of a deceased resident for negligence.

According to the lawsuit, Miriam Davis is suing Friendswood nursing home for negligence, after her mother died from multiple falls while she was a resident in the nursing home. Davis claims that the nursing home admitted her mother, Virginia Melghem, in November 2009, even though they were aware that she was at-risk for falling, and that they could not properly care for, supervise, or monitor her mother’s needs for safe care and nursing home treatment.

Davis claims that she was told her mother would receive proper care that would be administered to her in a manner that was appropriate to her physical and mental condition. As a resident however, Davis claims that her mother went on to sustain injuries and trauma that included multiple nursing home falls, that last of which led to a broken hip. After her last fall, Melghem died one week later.

According to the CDC, 20 – 30% of elderly people who fall, experience moderate to severe fall-related injuries such as fractured hips, lacerations, or traumas to the head—which can increase the risk of early death. The CDC also claims that the death rates from falls with elderly men and women have spiked over the past decade.

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Our Washington D.C. nursing home injury attorneys recently discussed the problem of fall-related injuries across the country, and the importance wellness and prevention education plays in keeping elders out of the hospital and nursing homes.

Much of the work of preventing falls with the elderly starts with always reporting any change in health conditions to doctors, like dizziness, and reporting previous falls. Other recommendations include daily exercise and hydration, and having regular eye exams, along with working with a doctor to minimize or revise medication management to work best for the individual. Other expert suggestions include having railings and bars installed in houses and showers, keeping clutter off the floor, avoiding any clothing that is loose or could cause a senior to trip, and for homes to be very well-lit. Other advice includes creating an emergency plan in case of a fall—like having seniors wear a medical device that would call for emergency attention.

In a recent Washington D.C. nursing home lawyer blog, our attorneys discussed the CDC’s recommendations on how to prevent nursing home falls, which include assessing each resident after a fall to discuss the senior’s medical conditions and risk factors, by discussing potential risks with falling, and reviewing prescribed medications. The CDC also advises that if a senior is recovering from a fall, that the nursing home, hospital or rehab facilities should provide a safe environment to residents who are prone to falling—including raised toilet seats, safety handles and bars in rooms and bathrooms, handrails, adjustable bed heights that can be lowered, and padding to prevent injury. The CDC also recommends using alarm devices that are triggered when a patients attempts to get out of bed without assistance.

If someone you know in the Washington D.C. area has experienced nursing home or hospital falls that could be due to negligence, call our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation, at 1-800-654-1949.

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