Broken Bones in Nursing Homes

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Falling is one of the leading causes of injury to elderly individuals, and it happens more than you might think, particularly in nursing homes, where you’d expect safeguards to be in place to minimize it. A single fall can result in broken bones in nursing homes that can lead to long-term immobility and complications, including the development of bedsores, and even death in some instances. It’s a frightening trend, and more and more nursing homes are finding themselves facing steep fines and legal charges over their failure to prevent complications from broken bones to seniors.

A Rising Trend

More nursing homes than ever before are finding themselves facing serious ramifications when it comes to broken bones for seniors in their care. For instance, the state of Connecticut fined two nursing homes in early 2016 for failing to notify a physician about residents who fell and broke bones. In another instance, an administrator at a nursing home actually prevented a resident from going to the hospital for treatment to maintain resident counts on the property. Eventually, that patient was put on hospice. This trend is reflected across the entire country, as well.

How Serious Are Falls and Broken Bones in Nursing Homes?

Falls account for almost 90% of the broken bones experienced by seniors over the age of 65. Also, falls (and resulting complications from broken bones in nursing homes) account for a full 70% of accidental deaths in residents age 70 or over. Obviously, falls and broken bones are very serious, and it seems as though nursing home staff members and administrators are not taking appropriate precautions.

Common Causes of Falls

Seniors are more prone to falling than younger individuals for some reasons. One of the most common reasons for falling and breaking a bone is sudden dizziness on standing. However, there are numerous others, including some medications:

  • Tripping on hazards
  • Lack of mobility aids and devices
  • Balance disorders
  • Vertigo
  • Illness
  • Visual impairment/disorder
  • Medications, including sedatives, cardiac medications, corticosteroids, antidepressants and more

Most Common Types of Broken Bones in Nursing Homes

So, which bones are the most frequently broken by seniors living within nursing homes, and which are the most serious? The most common types of broken bones are listed below in order of commonality:

  • Hip/Pelvis
  • Thigh
  • Spine/vertebra
  • Arms
  • Hand
  • Ankle or leg

Of those, broken hips seem to be the most worrisome. According to a study conducted by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and reported by Reuters, “Half of nursing home residents who have a hip fracture either die or lose the ability to walk on their own in the six months after the injury.” Within six months of being injured, one-third of the patients tracked by the study had died. Within a year of the accident, half of the patients being tracked had died. Of those that survived, most were no longer mobile and required significant assistance to get around, or even to sit up in bed.

Complications for Those Who Survive Broken Bones in Nursing Homes

For patients who survive the initial injury and the weeks immediately following, there are a host of potential complications that might occur, including the following:

  • The development of bedsores due to a lack of mobility and proper care from nursing home staff
  • Onset of depression due to lack of mobility and low quality of life
  • Changes in attitude or demeanor due to depression
  • Weight loss
  • Poor personal hygiene due to an inability to care for themselves and little care from nursing home staff

These are just a few of the potential complications/results of suffering from a broken bone, particularly a broken hip. However, even seemingly common broken bones, such as arms and hands, can have severe, long-lasting effects on the health of seniors within nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

If you have a loved one who has been injured due to a fall in a nursing home, it is important to consult an experienced attorney to learn more about whether you should pursue a case against the nursing home administration. With the right legal assistance, you and your family can find redress.