Falls are currently the leading cause of both fatal and non-fatal injuries to senior citizens in the United States. About one-third of elderly individuals in Kentucky and across the nation will reportedly suffer a fall injury during a given year, and many of those are nursing home falls. In 2013, approximately 2.5 million individuals age 65 or older sought treatment in an emergency room for injuries that were sustained in a fall. Unfortunately, falls may result in cuts, fractures, traumatic head injuries, and other physical harm. According to the nation’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of fall-related broken hips is expected to climb to about 700,000 per year by 2030.
A team of researchers at the University of Maryland Medical School’s Program on Aging, Trauma, and Emergency Care seeks to understand and reduce the number of harmful senior citizen fall accidents, particularly nursing home falls. A new research study led by the school will follow 500 elderly patients who seek emergency room care and have a fall risk for a period of five years in an effort to develop a program aimed at reducing fall hazards for seniors.
As part of the study, researchers will take an extensive medical history of patients, review their medications, and travel to each participant’s place of residence in order to develop individualized fall risk reduction plans. Researchers also hope to analyze participant exercise plans, conduct eye examinations, and modify the living environments of seniors who are most at risk of falling. The results will then be compared against the current generic fall prevention instructions provided to the nation’s elderly.
Senior men and women suffer from nursing home falls or hospital falls, trip on rugs or carpets, or lose their balance on the stairs. Researchers hope the study results can help hospitals and nursing homes provide more effective safety measures for patients who are most at risk of suffering a fall injury. Currently, preventative measures such as shower grab bars, lowered beds, alarms that notify nurses when a patient leaves a bed alone, and balance-focused exercises such as tai chi have shown promise in preventing nursing home falls. Still, there is more work to be done for seniors who live at home or in long-term care facilities.
Nursing Home Falls
Although anyone may be hurt in a fall, nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable. Although only about five percent of seniors in the U.S. reside in a nursing home, long-term care facility residents account for about 20 percent of the fall fatalities suffered by adults age 65 and older. Kentucky nursing homes have a duty to take certain precautions to prevent residents from falling. Facilities are required to follow specific protocols if a resident is harmed in a fall accident. If a skilled nursing facility employee breaches that duty, an injured nursing home resident may be eligible to recover financial compensation for his or her harm. Certain relatives of someone who died as a result of a fall accident may also be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home where the tragic incident occurred. Contact a skilled nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to discuss your rights, or those of a loved one, in more detail.
If you were hurt or a loved one died in a fall accident while residing at a Kentucky nursing home, you should speak with an experienced Bowling Green personal injury attorney as soon as you are able. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with a lawyer, call English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP at (270) 781-6500 or contact us through our website.
Preventing falls in seniors an ongoing effort, by Meredith Cohn, The Baltimore Sun
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