Bed falls a serious problem for nursing home residents

We came across an article today from New Zealand today that had figures from their state Accident Compensation Corporation that found that 7,600 people are injured every year due to falling out of bed. While the majority of people who fall out of beds are small children and the elderly, 23% of those injured were people between the ages of 25 and 64.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports that every year over 400,000 are injured so seriously that they require hospital admission. For the frail elderly, a bed fall can result in a broken hip or a head trauma which can be very a serious injury and can even result in death.

Falls are a particular problem in nursing homes where as many as 3 out of 4 residents fall every year and often residents suffer an average of a couple of falls per year.

Nursing home falls can be caused by muscle weakness and problems with gait (24%); environmental hazards including wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height (16-27%),; medications that affect the nervous system, and other problems such as when moving a patient from bed to chair, poorly fitting shoes and improper use of canes and walkers.

Most nursing homes have fall prevention plans including:

  • assessing patients for their fall risk
  • educating staff
  • implementing exercise programs which can increase a patient’s strength, balance and ability to walk and function
  • reviewing medications and minimizing use where appropriate
  • improving the nursing home environment by making sure there is adequate lighting, raised toilet seats, handrails in hallways, etc
  • installing fall alarms which can alert staff when an at-risk patient is trying to get out of bed without help

This information is provided by Washington Injury Attorney blog, a service of The Farber Law Group. We represent victims of nursing home neglect and their families.

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