Articles Posted in Hip Fracture

Q2191986_noun_108043_ccNicolasVicent_elderly.svgWhen you have a loved one residing in a San Diego nursing home, it is extremely important to think about how the facility is managing fall risks. According to a fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), millions of seniors suffer injuries from falls each year, and about 25% of the elderly population will fall in any given year. As the CDC points out, about 20% of those falls among seniors result in serious injuries such as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or broken bones. More than 800,000 older adults require hospitalization because of a fall-related injury each year, and around 300,000 seniors need to be hospitalized specifically because of a hip fracture. All in all, approximately 2.8 million elderly adults are treated in emergency departments each year due to falls. Of those seniors who get hurt, about 1,800 die as a result of their injuries.

Since falls are so common among older adults, and given that they often result in serious injuries, what should nursing homes do to help prevent falls from happening? If nursing facilities in San Diego do not take proper precautions when it comes to fall prevention, can they be liable for nursing home neglect?

Nursing Home Falls Occur in Many Different Contexts

For elderly adults who live on their own or in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, falls can result in serious and life-threatening injuries. While falls are not the result of elder abuse, they can occur when there is a clear issue of nursing home neglect. A recent article in the New York Times emphasized that the number of reported falls among older adults—many of those accidents leading to serious and sometimes fatal injuries—is a number that is “soaring.”

Nursing Home Regulations file000289604980Aimed at Preventing Falls

How can nursing homes take steps to prevent dangerous falls? The New York Times article discusses the policies put in place recently by a retirement community which require that, during mealtimes, residents who use walkers to get around must have their walkers “valet parked” after they find a seat at the table. In addition, they are not permitted to use their walkers during the meal—they must stay in their seats while staff members serve them. While many residents of the facility argued that the policy “infringed on [one’s] freedom of movement,” it prevented a number of serious falls at the buffet.

From the New York Times:

A study from the Archives of Internal Medicine found that elderly people who take narcotic-based drugs for pain face an elevate risk of bone fractures, heart attacks and death than those who take a non-narcotic pain reliever. In what is considered the first large-scale effort to examine the safety risks associated with narcotic pain relievers, researchers concluded that narcotics were more dangerous than non-narcotics, contrary to popular belief.

“Doctors should not assume that opioids are a safer alternative,” said Daniel H. Solomon, the study’s researcher, said in a telephone interview on Monday. “They seem to carry profound risks to cardiovascular system as well as increased risk fractures and appear to be associated with increased risk of death.”

This is an amazing story. A nursing home video camera catches a nursing caregiver deliberately dump an 85-year-old resident out of her wheelchair and onto the floor, and then simply walk away. In the horrific video, Nurse Jesse Joiner walks over the wheelchair, and abruptly jerks it to the left, causing the frail woman to fall hard on the floor. Incredibly, Joiner simply walks away as the woman is writhing on the floor. As if that weren’t stunning enough, minutes later another caregiver notices the woman on the floor, and does nothing for more than a minute. According to the new story, the victim fractured her hip in the fall. Her current condition is unknown.

As a firm that has handled numerous fall-fracture cases in the nursing home, including several that were supposedly “accidental falls” from a wheelchair, it is stunning to see this. You can bet that the nursing notes say that the resident fell on her own, and that she had some propensity to try to get out of her wheelchair. What’s also interesting is that the nursing home looks like a pretty nice place in the video, and according to the story has a clean record with state authorities.

As we always say, any unexpected injury, illness, or death should be examined. Also, you can never the judge the quality of a home by how it looks on the outside or inside. How many times have other residents at this home been injured or killed by incidents that were noted to be simple accidents.

The signs and symptoms of a brain injury are not always as clear as you might think. Most patients who suffer a traumatic brain injury can walk, talk, and give the appearance of a normally functioning person. There are, however, symptoms that point to brain trauma.

The month of March is set aside to increase the awareness of traumatic brain injuries, which can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that falls – particularly in people over age 75 – are the leading cause of brain injuries in the United States.

Those who care for the elderly should be aware of the symptoms of a brain injury. In a mild injury, a person might have a persistent headache, confused, or have blurred vision. Another symptoms is a lost of smell or taste. A more severe injury may cause vomiting, slurred speech or weakness in arms or legs.

A severe hip fracture suffered by a resident of an assisted living facility went undiagnosed by facility staff for two weeks. The resident, who was ambulatory before the hip fracture, died approximately three weeks after being hospitalized for her injury. Mr. Walton filed a lawsuit against the residential care facility for failure to recognize the fracture.