While nursing home must assess each patient for their propensity to fall and implement fall prevention accordingly— for some patients falls may occur even with safeguards in place.
We’ll save the discussion on nursing home fall precautions for another day– but what about how the facility handles the care post-fall?
A fall, like any injury-related incident involving a nursing home patient should be immediately be followed by an accompanying evaluation of the patient to see if the patient requires medical care. Even in circumstances where there may be no apparent injury, the circumstances surrounding the incident should followed up with a corresponding evaluation and re-assessment by the facility to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
While the circumstances surrounding the fall may be important for determining any liability on the part of the facility, I find that the care (or lack thereof) provided by the facility after the fact is too often an afterthought of the facility.
In this sense, I was glad to see nursing home investigators from the Minnesota Health Department Office of Health Facilities Complaints acknowledge the errors the Augustana Heath Care Center made following the fall of a patient from his wheelchair.
In evaluating the incident, it was determined that the facility made errors relating to the patients post-fall care. In a recently released report, the agency noted that the facility “did not assess, monitor and treat” the man in a timely manner following his fall.
The finding is particularly important because it was revealed that the man’s death wouldn’t have been avoided even with timely care due to the serenity of his injuries.
In the course of an increasingly hostile nursing home litigation environment, I am seeing poorer and poorer post-fall care provided to patients. It is readily becoming apparent to me that many nursing homes would rather attempt to cover up an incident than acknowledge it’s existence and provide necessary care for their patients– that just may ease their suffering.
For patients, I hope that other states acknowledge the need to provide an evaluation and care for a patient post-fall as it is simply cruel to allow patients to suffer because a facility may be ashamed of its care. All situations involving the fall of a nursing home patient should be followed by a careful examination by staff who are trained to identify even latent injuries to residents. When an injury is identified, staff should summon the patients doctor or get them to a hospital as soon as feasible. Failure to do so isn’t just illegal, it’s downright cruel.
For more information on nursing homes in Minnesota look here.
Learn more about the laws applicable to Minnesota nursing homes here.
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