Preventing Slips and Falls in Nursing Homes

Slips, trips, and falls are some of the most common risks to elderly nursing home residents. Employees in these facility have a duty to take precautions to prevent falls from occurring. Many falls are preventable with a few simple steps. A typical fall may result in minor injuries, although elderly residents are much more at risk for a serious, life-threatening injury from a fall than the general population. Even minor incidents can be a sign that something is seriously wrong with the facility’s safety practices. If a fall results in a serious injury or slips and falls seem to be occurring regularly at the facility, you should look into whether or not the location is doing everything it can to keep your loved one safe.

If your loved one has suffered a serious injury from a slip, trip, or fall in a nursing home, contact an attorney. Our nursing home abuse and negligence lawyers at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can investigate what happened and assist you with filing a claim against the facility. Slips and falls in nursing homes can often be prevented. Schedule a consultation with our law firm by calling (217) 528-9955 for more information.

Duties of Skilled Care Facilities

In any negligence claim, one of the first questions posed will be whether or not the defendant had a duty toward the plaintiff to perform certain actions. Nursing home facilities must carefully assess fall risk, make the environment safe by removing hazards, and carefully monitor and assist residents during high risk situations like bathing and transferring from a bed to a chair. Failure to do so may result in liability for any injuries that occur due to a fall.

Assessment of Risk

All nursing home residents must be assessed to determine the level of care that they require and the degree of fall risk for that particular resident. Each resident should have a care plan that adequately explains any medical conditions, their care needs, and what type of assistance the resident will require during daily living tasks like eating, using the bathroom, and bathing

Nursing home fall cases are different from regular slip and fall cases because of the care plan requirements. When analyzing a nursing home fall case, an attorney will consider whether the care plan was adequate, whether it was followed correctly, and whether it was revised when necessary if it was not adequate to prevent falls. Nursing homes have a duty to revise care plans to prevent falls when a resident’s condition changes or if there are repeated fall incidents. 

Failure to Follow Care Plans

A common reason that preventable accidents occur is failure to follow a care plan. If the care plan requires a resident to be assisted by staff when bathing or transferring to a wheelchair, failure of nursing home employees to do so constitutes negligence. Sometimes accidents happen even if all precautions are followed, but a serious incident or repeated incidents warrant an investigation into what occurred.

Nursing homes may attempt to blame the resident for a slip, trip, or fall if the resident did not ask for help when attempting to do something on their own.  They may also attempt to blame the resident if they did not press a call button or failed to follow instructions. However, if the resident has a condition like dementia that would prevent them from understanding when they need to ask for assistance, the nursing home may still be held liable.

Environmental Hazards

Ordinary slip and fall cases usually focus on whether or not there were environmental hazards such as a spill on the floor, uneven carpeting, loose wires, and inadequate lighting.

These hazards may also cause falls in nursing homes. Nursing homes should take steps to keep areas safe for residents by removing all obvious hazards. Failure to do so can result in liability.

Inadequate Staff Training

Many nursing home slip and falls can be prevented with training on how to prevent these incidents from occurring. Nursing home residents often need help to transfer from a bed to a chair. Staff should be trained on how to assist with this properly and know when to ask for assistance from other employees. Many falls can be prevented if nursing home employees are aware of the most common risks to nursing home residents and how they can be minimized.

Employee Negligence and Understaffing

One of the most common reasons that falls occur is that staff fails to adequately monitor residents who need round-the-clock care. A deadly fall incident can occur in just minutes or even seconds if a staff member who is charged with monitoring a resident is inattentive. Falls may also occur if staff members fail to follow their training.

Another common problem is that facilities are understaffed. When there are not enough employees to adequately monitor and provide care to all residents, adverse incidents occur even when the employees are doing their best to follow all care plans and safety precautions.

Reporting Nursing Home Negligence

When nursing home negligence is suspected, employees can report the incident using elder abuse hotlines without risk of losing their jobs or being demoted based on state and federal whistleblowing statutes. If your loved one is in danger, contact the authorities, call the adult protective services hotline, or speak to an attorney as soon as possible.

Consult a Nursing Home Negligence Lawyer

Many slips, trips, and falls in nursing homes are preventable. If your loved one has been seriously injured because of a fall, our personal injury attorneys at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can investigate what happened and file a claim for damages if nursing home negligence caused the fall to occur. Many lawyers treat nursing home fall cases similarly to a regular slip-and-fall case, but our attorneys have the experience necessary to know how nursing home cases require a different analysis. Contact our office by calling (217) 528-9955 or fill out our online contact form.