Falls are a common problem facing elderly people in and out of nursing homes. By some accounts, every elderly person in America will fall at least one time over the course of the next year. Many of these falls will cause injury and some will even cause death.
In the case of falls occurring in the nursing home setting, many clients and their families focus their attention on tying a specific number of falls to a facilities responsibility. Truth be told, there really is no magic number when it comes to identifying a specific number of falls after which a nursing home or hospital becomes responsible.
Rather, in determining a nursing home’s fall related liability, it is important to determine not just the actual number of falls that occurred prior to the injury causing fall, but to look at the situation as a whole. Taking a look at the residents all-risk assessment completed by the facility on admission should help determine what safeguards should have been in place to prevent falls. In the case of multiple falls, it is important to look to see if a new assessment was completed after each fall. Put another way, there is no magic number of falls for imputing responsibility on the part of a facility.
While in the fall mode, I came across this article regarding a lawsuit filed against a nursing home for failing to take precautions before a resident fell and died from her injuries. The lawsuit alleges that Windsor Chico Creek Care and Rehabilitation Centers failed to implement fall precautions for a woman who was admitted to the facility following a back injury that made her susceptible to falls.
The woman’s husband filed a nursing home lawsuit claiming that the facilities negligent conduct resulted in the woman falling from her bed and fracturing her hip. The woman subsequently underwent surgery for the hip fracture and contracted aspiration pneumonia during her recovery that ultimately caused her death.
The lawsuit alleges that despite the facilities own orders for safety precautions, Windsor Chico Creek Care and Rehabilitation Center failed take the following precautionary measures to prevent the woman’s fall from occurring:
- Failed to use guardrails on the bed
- Failed to use an alarm system to alert staff if the woman fell from her bed
- Failed to used a lowered bed style to minimize the risk of falling from an elevated height
- Failed to hire an adequate number of staff to provide assistance
In this case, should the allegations proved to be true, this facility faces liability even though no prior falls took occurred. The lawsuit also names Helios Healthcare LLC, the owner of Windsor Chico Creek as a co-defendant in the case.
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