Chicago Nursing Home Falls and Fractures Lawyer

Experienced Chicago Nursing Home Falls and Fractures Lawyer

Common Causes of Nursing Home Falls

Nursing homes have a duty to provide their residents with living environments that are reasonably safe from hazards that can lead to falls and fractures. Unfortunately, whether through staffing issues, poor facility maintenance, inadequate patient care, or other causes, they often put their residents at serious risk of suffering injuries in a fall. Some of the common causes of avoidable falls and fractures in nursing homes include:

  • Inadequate lighting in hallways and stairwells
  • Inadequate staff to properly monitor and care for patients
  • Incorrect bed height
  • Lack of access to walking aids
  • Lack of supervision after taking medications with dangerous side effects
  • Malnutrition and other conditions leading to muscle weakness or disorientation
  • Medical equipment and other items obstructing hallways
  • Missing or broken handrails
  • Unreasonable physical restraints
  • Wet floors

Issues that most frequently lead to falls and fractures

  • Attempting to get out of bed
  • Getting into or out of a wheelchair
  • Going to the bathroom
  • Leaving your room to visit another area of the nursing home or leave the facility
  • Moving around your room – for example, to get food or medications

One of the issues that most frequently leads to falls and fractures is inattentive care. Many elderly nursing home residents require assistance for their mobility and performing basic tasks. Sadly, residents often find themselves alone and without assistance. In some cases, due to their medical condition or a side effect of their prescription medications, they may not be fully aware of their need for help. At Malman Law, our Chicago nursing home falls & fractures attorneys can help you seek compensation if you suffered a fall while:

Restraints are Not a Proper Measure for Preventing Falls and Fractures

Although use of physical restraints in nursing homes has dropped significantly since the 1980s, as many as 10 percent of nursing homes still physically restrain their residents. While this was once seen as a proper measure for preventing falls, it is now widely understood to put patients at greater risk for suffering serious fall-related injuries.

The website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plainly states: “They [physical restraints] should not be used as a fall prevention strategy. Restraints can actually increase the risk of fall-related injuries and deaths.”

In fact, since new regulations on physical restraints took effect, most nursing homes have seen significant reductions in their numbers of falls. This is due in large part to the fact that patients often suffer loss of muscle mass and impaired physical functioning due to being restrained.

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Know Your Rights!

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the federal rights of a nursing home resident?

Residents of facilities that participate in the Medicare program enjoy the following federal rights:

  • Freedom from verbal, sexual, physical, and mental abuse.
  • Freedom from physical or chemical restraints, except restraints imposed for medical reasons or to insure the safety of the patient or others. Restraints imposed for reasons of discipline or convenience are illegal and are considered abuse.
  • The right to be treated with dignity and respect.
  • The right to manage your own finances or to appoint someone else to do so.
  • The right to privacy as long as it doesn’t interfere with the health, safety, or rights of others.
  • The right to use one’s personal belongings as long as it doesn’t interfere with the health, safety, or rights of others.
  • The right to information about your medical condition and any treatments.
  • The right to refuse treatment (as long as you have the mental capacity to understand the nature and consequences of such a refusal).
  • The right to use your own doctor.
  • The right to set your own daily schedule.
  • The right to as much independence as your medical condition allows you.
  • The right to a safe and comfortable environment.

Most of these rights also apply under state law, even for nursing homes that do not participate in the Medicare program.

Can I sue the nursing home even if my loved one has no written contract with them?

Yes, you can, because human rights don’t need contractual support. If you were hit by a car, for example, you wouldn’t have to prove that you had a contract with the driver not to hit you in order to win a lawsuit against him or her – you could sue under general tort law principles, just as you can in cases of abuse and neglect in a nursing facility.

The Illinois Nursing Home Care Act defines the rights under state law that your loved one enjoys with or without a contractual arrangement with the nursing home. Federal regulations also apply if the institution participates in the Medicare program. Proving that the facility violated an applicable regulation will go a long way toward establishing their liability for compensatory damages. In cases of outrageous conduct, you might even be able to collect punitive damages against the nursing home. Of course, if there is a contract, a contract claim could be added to other claims arising from the abuse or neglect.

Where do I file a complaint against nursing home abuse or neglect?

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is the state agency responsible for enforcing the law in favor of the more than 100,000 nursing home residents residing in over 1,200 facilities in Illinois. The IDPH licenses these facilities, conducts inspections at least annually, and cooperates with the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for eligibility to participate in federal payment reimbursement programs.

The IDPH maintains a Nursing Home Hotline (800-252-4343) for complaints. Upon receiving a complaint of abuse or neglect, the IDPH’s Bureau of Long Term Care may launch an investigation. Although it does not participate in lawsuits, it can sanction or even close down homes that violate the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act or federal regulations. The results of its investigation can be used as evidence in a civil lawsuit against a home or an employee.