Nursing Home Resident Falls

One of the most common potential sources of injuries in Illinois nursing homes is when residents fall.  Due to a number of reasons, while some fall injuries are relatively minor – such as those that result in abrasions or contusions – the resulting injuries from such falls are often serious and can directly lead to the death of the nursing home resident.  As well, such fatalities don’t necessarily happen immediately after the fall, i.e. the fall may lead to a deterioration in health that later leads to death.

The incidence of lawsuits regarding nursing home residents who have fallen and injured themselves is high.  According to various sources, nursing home falls are the top reason for lawsuits against long-term health care providers, such as skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes.  The McKnight’s article of October 27, 2014, titled “Falls are top reasons for lawsuits against skilled nursing facilities, report states” further discusses this topic.

One of the main reasons for the commonality of nursing home lawsuits (including Illinois wrongful death lawsuits) concerning such falls is not only the frequency of such falls, but the often serious nature of injuries stemming from these accidents.  Many of these lawsuits allege negligence on the part of the nursing home (or similar type of long-term health care facility, such as assisted living facilities.)  While the reasons for the negligence claims vary, a commonly stated reason is that despite previous nursing home falls, little or nothing was done to prevent subsequent falls and their corresponding injuries.  Often, such suits also claim violations of the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.

Because of the serious harm that these falls can cause, this subject has been discussed on this site in a number of areas.  In addition to individual posts that largely discuss falls in Illinois nursing homes, the subject is also discussed on the following pages:

Falls In Illinois Nursing Homes

Chicago Nursing Home Falls And Dropped Residents

Nursing Home Falls Statistics

Nursing Home Falls Statistics – Additional

Preventing Falls In Nursing Homes

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in a document titled “Important Facts about Falls” (last updated January 20, 2016) further discusses various aspects of falls and the prevention of these accidents.  Various statistics are also provided.

Among the statistics are the following.  As one can see, falls are particularly problematical due to the incidence of hip fractures as well as traumatic brain injuries (TBI):

  • One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury.1,2
  • Each year, 2.5 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries.3
  • Over 700,000 patients a year are hospitalized because of a fall injury, most often because of a head injury or hip fracture.3
  • Each year at least 250,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures.5
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling,6 usually by falling sideways.7
  • Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries (TBI).8

The CDC document also has a section discussing factors that may make a person more likely to fall, i.e. be more susceptible to falling.

As seen in the document:

Research has identified many conditions that contribute to falling. These are called risk factors. Many risk factors can be changed or modified to help prevent falls. They include:

  • Lower body weakness
  • Vitamin D deficiency (that is, not enough vitamin D in your system)
  • Difficulties with walking and balance
  • Use of medicines, such as tranquilizers, sedatives, or antidepressants. Even some over-the-counter medicines can affect balance and how steady you are on your feet.
  • Vision problems
  • Foot pain or poor footwear
  • Home hazards or dangers such as
    • broken or uneven steps,
    • throw rugs or clutter that can be tripped over, and
    • no handrails along stairs or in the bathroom.

Most falls are caused by a combination of risk factors. The more risk factors a person has, the greater their chances of falling.

Also discussed is various suggestions as to how to prevent falls.  Among these suggestions is for vision testing, with reasons for such testing further discussed.

Another facet regarding falls is discussed in an April 2016 report titled “Head Trauma from Falling Increases Subsequent Emergency Department Visits More Than Other Fall-Related Injuries In Other Adults.”  This report’s findings are also discussed in the April 24, 2016 McKnight’s article titled “Fall-sustained head trauma doubles seniors’ risk of emergency room visits.”  As seen in these sources, the report indicates that the probability of a need to return to the emergency room were more than two times higher for seniors with head trauma sustained from a fall, as compared to those who did not receive a head injury during a fall.

Should someone you care for in a Chicago nursing home, or any other Illinois nursing home or long-term care facility, suffers a fall that leads to an injury, there may be grounds for filing a personal injury lawsuit.  For those falls that directly or indirectly lead to the death of the nursing home resident, a wrongful death lawsuit may be filed.  While – of course – not all falls are caused by carelessness or negligence on the part of the nursing home care provider, in instances where a resident falls occurs due to nursing home negligence a lawsuit may be warranted.

From a legal perspective, each injury situation needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.  Tony Elman, Lead Attorney of the Elman Joseph Law Group, can discuss the injury situation with you and also discuss what avenues may be available for pursuing injury compensation, or, in the case of fatalities, a wrongful death lawsuit. 

Tony Elman can be reached at (773) 392-8182.

Elman Joseph Law Group works on personal injury cases on a contingency basis — this means that clients are not charged legal fees unless and until the client receives money from the lawsuit.

Elman Joseph Law Group has been handling Illinois personal injury cases for over 20 years.  During this time, Elman Joseph Law Group has handled over 10,000 personal injury cases.  Through this experience, which has included a range of lawsuit types and sizes, Elman Joseph Law Group has established a reputation, based upon settlements and court verdicts achieved, as being (highly) successful trial lawyers.