CDC Guide to Nursing Home Fall Prevention

In a recent blog, our Baltimore, Maryland Nursing Home Attorneys discussed a new Maryland initiative, led by the Maryland Patient Safety Center (MPSC), to reduce the number of nursing home resident falls that can result in nursing home injury and deaths throughout the country.

According to the CDC, more than 1,800 people die in nursing home falls every year. In 2003, 1.5 million people over the age of 65 reportedly lived in nursing homes. The CDC projects that if this rate continues to rise, by 2030, there will be around 3 million nursing home residents—so understanding and evaluating nursing home falls and ways of preventing them is necessary for the health and safety of nursing home residents, to prevent nursing home injury and wrongful death.

Nursing home falls can be linked to the result of many health problems, including older residents who are weak, have difficulty caring for themselves or have difficulty walking, have chronic health conditions, or residents who have memory problems like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Among the most common causes of nursing home falls are muscle weaknesses and walking problems, leading to 24% of falls. Environmental hazards like wet floors, poorly fitted wheelchairs, bad lighting, or improper bed heights, have also lead to a reported 16-27% of nursing home falls. Medications can also increase the risk of falls, especially if a patient is taking drugs that affect the nervous system, like sedatives or anti-anxiety drugs. Physical restraints, the controversial method used to try and keep residents from falling, can actually increase the risk of fall-related injuries and wrongful deaths.

Nursing home falls can also be caused by poorly trained staff, understaffing, or by using incorrect or outdated equipment to transfer or transport nursing home residents properly.

The CDC recommends a number of ways to prevent nursing home falls, starting by assessing residents after a fall to address risk factors and medical conditions, reviewing prescribed medicines to clarify potential risks and benefits, and making sure nursing home environments are fall-proof by installing grab bars, raising toilet seats, installing handrails, lowering bed heights and padding patient’s hips to prevent a fracture if they do fall. Other recommendations include eliminating physical restraints or bed rails, as well as using devices that go off when patients try to get out of bed without help, a topic we covered in a recent blog.

If a Maryland resident becomes injured or dies due to a nursing home fall, because the nursing home neglected to protect the health and safety of the resident, the nursing home could be held liable for Maryland nursing home negligence or wrongful death. Our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers represent victims and their families who wish to recover personal injury compensation from nursing home negligence and harm. Contact us today.

Maryland Program Provides Road Map for Reducing Patient Falls, HealthLeaders Media, May 21, 2010

Related Web Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Falls in Nursing Homes

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