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Falls in Nursing Homes Are Continuing Problem – Sept 30, 2013

According to data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), falls in nursing homes are a frequent and repeated occurrence.   Roughly 1,800 nursing home residents die every year from injuries related to falls and many more suffer hip injuries and head injuries that result in a permanent disability.

The CDC reports that older individuals living in nursing homes experience falls at twice the rate of older adults living in the broader community. Thirty five percent of fall injuries are suffered by residents who cannot walk.

According to the CDC, about 24 percent of the falls are due to muscle weakness or walking or gait problems.  However, a significant number of falls (16%-27%) are due to hazards in the nursing home environment, such as wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height and improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs.  Medications also can play a significant role in the likelihood of nursing home falls, particularly drugs that affect the central nervous system such as sedatives or anti-anxiety medications.  The CDC found that fall risk is elevated during the three day period following any change in these types of medications.  

Fall prevention and injury protection for nursing home residents requires a combination or medical treatment, rehabilitation,  and environmental changes according to the CDC’s findings. These fall prevention measures should be implemented at all levels of nursing home facilities from organizational down to direct patient care, and are most effective when implemented by a multidisciplinary team.

If you have a loved one who has been injured in a nursing home fall as a result of improper care, please contact us for a free consultation.

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