Signs and Symptoms of a Nursing Home Fall

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As many as half of all nursing home residents fall each year. Many will fall more than once in a year. That amounts to hundreds of thousands of falls each year.

The consequences are often devastating. Victims who suffer serious injury face decline in their quality of life and even further reduced mobility. Even a fear of falling can reduce activity and enjoyment of life.

Too many nursing home falls go unreported and untreated. A resident may not be able to report a fall. Care providers and administrators may discourage reporting. Family members must look for the signs and symptoms of a fall at a long-term care facility, then reach out to a nursing home abuse lawyer.

What Is a Nursing Home Fall?

A nursing home fall is a sudden loss of desired standing, seating or kneeling position of a person in a nursing home. It may or may not result in traumatic contact with the ground or another surface.

Many nursing home falls occur from a standing position. A fall can also occur from a seated position or when transitioning from standing, kneeling and lying down. It may involve a slip or mishandling of a mobility device like a sliding walker or poor brakes on a wheelchair. When a fall is broken by others, it is still a fall.

Signs and Symptoms of a Fall in a Nursing Home

Here are some signs and symptoms that a person may be the victim of a nursing home fall:

  • Sudden changes in mobility, an inability or reluctance to walk or move throughout the facility, where it used to be routine and without fear
  • Avoiding certain activities and interactions with others
  • Changes in mood, irritability, whether or not the person vocalizes pain
  • Visible bruising and cuts
  • Favoring a certain side of the body, refusing to use a hand, arm, leg or other body part
  • Anxiety, expressing a fear of falling
  • Difficulty with personal grooming, changes in hygiene habits
  • Fear or avoidance of a certain person or caregiver
  • Signs of concussion, confusion, decline in cognitive abilities

Changes in a person’s typical behavior may be a sign of a nursing home fall. A person may have a sudden change in their mobility, or they may be less interested in activity that requires moving throughout the facility. In addition to physical changes, becoming irritable, anxious or withdrawn is a warning sign, too. If a fall limits a person’s overall ability to self-care, signs may appear in the person’s daily routine, like their hygiene.

When questioned, the resident may be willing to talk about what happened. However, they may be reluctant. They may worry about invasive medical procedures or retaliation from uncooperative staff.

Why are nursing home falls underreported?

According to the Center for Medicare Advocacy, nursing home falls are underreported when care facilities self-report. They say that of Medicare hospital admissions for falls among nursing home residents, only 57.5% were included in data reporting by the care facilities themselves.

Care facilities may simply want to improve their safety records. They may want to shield themselves from liability or the scrutiny of family members. Whatever the reason, the underreporting of nursing home falls harms patient care and quality of life.

Legal Help for Unreported Nursing Home Fall

There are several ways that a nursing home may have legal liability for an unreported fall. Liability is based on negligence, or a lack of reasonable care. A nursing home must provide reasonable care for its residents. Knowing that people are in a nursing home for help with daily living, this standard of care is high. The burden of care includes addressing fall risks. It means helping a resident once a fall has occurred.

Nursing home liability for falls

First, there is liability for the fall itself. A nursing home must address fall risk for each resident. A resident should be provided with railings, walkers and wheelchairs to reduce the risk of a fall. Footwear and flooring surfaces should also minimize dangers. Preventing a fall does not mean rendering a resident immobile – neglect can be grounds for legal liability, too.

Second, when a fall occurs, the care facility must respond properly. If they witness a fall, they should ensure that the victim receives medical attention. If signs appear that a fall has occurred, the person should receive medical attention and there should be an investigation. When the person doesn’t receive the help they need, the response of caregivers can be negligent and the grounds for legal liability.

Contact Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Bobby Jones in Greenville

If your loved one has fallen in a nursing home, or you have concerns about their care, you can talk to lawyer Bobby Jones in Greenville. Contact Bobby Jones Law today to talk about your case.

The team at Bobby Jones Law LLC works tirelessly for the injured in South Carolina. His achievements include:
  • More than $60 million collected for our clients
  • Multiple recoveries exceeding $1 million, including an eight-figure settlement
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  • Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Selected as Legal Elite of the Upstate 2021–2023
We’re humbled to be considered one of the top firms in the Upstate and invite you to learn what sets our award-winning legal services apart. Call or request a consultation online.
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