As an attorney working on nursing home negligence cases, falls at facilities are a steady source of my case work. Particularly in an elderly population commonly found at many nursing home facilities, falls frequently have devastating consequences where patients suffer various types of fractures and head injures that cause a tremendous amount of pain and diminish the quality of their lives.
Recognizing the dangers associated with falls in nursing homes, federal laws require that each patient be assessed for their propensity to fall and preventative measures must be instituted by the facility.
When properly implemented, the preventative fall measures can indeed make significant headway in reducing the number of nursing home falls. However, even the best best fall prevention plan can not prescribe a preventative measure for every precarious situation encountered by patients as they go about their day– nor would such plans necessarily be practical as they would simply be impossible to administer.
For all the sophisticated and labor-intensive ways which we commonly look towards for fall prevention methods, I was pleasantly surprised to read about how a New York nursing home successfully reduced the fall rate of their patients’ by more than 50% over the course of a year.
McKnights reported how The Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation in Brooklyn, NY improved the safety for their patients by incorporating the following fall prevention safeguards:
- Changing the color of their toilet seats to black from white to improve the visual contrast and allow patients to better gauge where they should be prior to sitting
- Utilizing overlay mattresses with sideguards on the beds of patients who tend to get up unassisted.
- Imposing new evening activities during to help bring more structure to a time when patients are more prone to falling
- Imposing new pain assessments for cognitively impaired patients to assist in the identification of fall-related injuries
While the above measures may seem fairly basic— and they are— my experience is that these basic precautions commonly go ignored as facilities continually look towards new technologies for improving patient care. Hopefully, other nursing homes across the country will take note of these basic fall precautions as they can be quickly implemented at a very modest cost.
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