While all individuals age 65 and older are at increased risk for suffering serious injuries in a fall, a disproportionate amount of fall-related injuries among the elderly occur in nursing homes. Elderly individuals and their family members rely on nursing facilities to provide safe living environments, so why is this the case?
Part of the reason may be that individuals living in nursing homes tend to be older, more frail, and less able to care for themselves. However, studies and litigation have shown that facilities regularly fail to provide appropriate care and safe facilities for their residents. These problems often lead nursing home residents to suffer injuries in falls that could – and should – be avoided.
The statistics on nursing home falls are sobering:
The average facility reports one to two falls per year for each bed in its facility; however, many more nursing home falls go unreported.
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:
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:
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.
Residents of facilities that participate in the Medicare program enjoy the following federal rights:
Most of these rights also apply under state law, even for nursing homes that do not participate in the Medicare program.
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.
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.
2 years ago I was involved in a trucking accident involving a 14-wheeler truck that nearly disabled me for life. Steve fought to make sure that I received the most possible compensation for my injuries. I was about to take the insurance company’s lowball offer, but decided to call Steve first – it was the best decision I’ve made yet
NOAH TAFFELPersonal Injury Victim