Nursing Home Falls and Fractures

Nursing home falls and fractures are common among elder residents because they are often disabled, older and easily disoriented in their surroundings.  Taking these considerations into account, any type of fall resulting in an injury or fracture will have a significant impact on their functional ability and quality of life in the nursing home.

What is considered a nursing home fall or fracture?

A fall is defined as an event in which a person inadvertently or intentionally comes to rest on the ground or some other lower level (such as a chair, toilet or bed) after losing balance during walking or some other activity.

A fall-related serious injury may result in medical treatment including hospitalization, emergency department visit, physician visit, or on-site radiological examination. Serious injuries might include fractures; head injuries with altered consciousness; joint dislocations or sprains; or sutured lacerations.

Many nursing home falls and fractures go unreported by residents and staff. The serious issue is when these falls end up in bone fractures. When these bone fractures go untreated for a long period of time, there could be serious health implications down the road. This includes infections which can lead to a possible devastating amputation.

What to do if a senior experiences a nursing home fall or fracture?

Most falls in the elderly are due to health problems, frailty, and sensory deficits such as poor vision/hearing. However, some falls occur due to the fault of a nursing home.  This can be due to such environmental factors such as slippery floors, uncomfortable seating, and bed height. If circumstances are extreme, laws not followed, or nursing home regulations violated, this may be grounds for a nursing home negligence lawsuit.

Negligence actions against nursing homes have often arisen from falls by residents, and such actions have at times resulted in liability. In one case, a frail, elderly resident fell from her bed, breaking her hip. She had a history of crippling arthritis and heart trouble, she had been given a sleeping pill about one hour before she fell, and she was supposed to be restrained because of her confused and disoriented condition. The nursing home was liable because they did not restrain her.