Fall injuries account for more than 30% of all preventable hospital emergency room visits by nursing home residents. This is a real problem for California seniors, because California nursing homes are by and large chronically understaffed.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nursing home falls frequently go unreported, so the problem is even greater than the statistics show.
Nursing home fall injuries can be deadly, immediately or possibly months after the fall. Nursing home falls can cause broken bones and head injuries that can be fatal. They can also cause disability, functional decline, and reduced quality of life that can lead to death.
Does a Nursing Home Fall Mean the Nursing Home was Negligent?
Falls, especially multiple falls, can be caused by nursing home neglect or elder abuse. But they can also happen without the nursing home being to blame.
Nursing homes must take all reasonable measures to prevent falls. They must also provide adequate care to residents after a fall. This means quickly identifying injuries, including possible head trauma (which can lead to brain bleeds) and providing appropriate treatment immediately.
It also means providing support post-fall to help with injuries. For example, if a person suffers a broken bone and is hospitalized, the nursing home must provide good care upon their return to help prevent decline and promote healing. If they do not, the nursing home was negligent.
How Do I Know if Fall-Related Injuries Caused Their Death Weeks or Months Later?
You may not--and the nursing home likely won't tell you. Finding answers like this is one of the main reasons clients contact us.
In general, a fall with a major broken bone like the hip or the upper leg bone (called the “femur”) can cause death months later. The death can be due to the individuals slow decline, resulting in less mobility and further decline in health until they finally die.
It is important the coroner or medical examiner be involved, if possible. In some California counties, they will review the death if it is within 6 months of a fall with injury. But nursing homes do not always report the death. You or your nursing home lawyer can do so.
Head trauma leading to brain bleeds (sometimes called “intracranial hemorrhage” or causing “midline shift” or “brain herniation”) are fairly easy to connect to the trauma--assuming the nursing home was honest and told you about the fall.
We have investigated numerous cases where the nursing home allowed someone to fall multiple times, then did not send them to the ER quickly. Unfortunately, by the time the resident is sent, it's too late.
The bottom line is fall cases require investigation by a team of qualified individuals that are well versed both in the medicine of nursing homes but also the regulations and laws surrounding the operation of a nursing home and the requirements for suing a nursing home. Contact us now to discuss starting an investigation.
How Do I Know if I Need a California Nursing Home Fall Lawyer?
You know you need a California fall lawyer if: (1) the fall occurred when someone was not receiving adequate assistance the nursing home knew they required; (2) there are multiple falls over a period of weeks or months; (3) the fall results in serious injury or death, whether immediately or over weeks.
You may never be told how serious a fall was, how many falls occurred, or even that a person's death was caused by the fall taking such a toll on them. Sometimes that's because the nursing home just does a bad job of communicating. Sometimes it is part of a cover-up.
A California nursing home lawyer can investigate and help determine if the injuries from a fall--or other nursing home neglect or abuse--led to the death.