Did you know that medical expenses from falling injuries exceed $30 billion each year?
Several million older adults fall annually. Many of the elderly who fall do not report the incident to their doctor, and falling one time doubles the likelihood of another fall. Roughly 20% of falls cause severe injuries, such as a broken bone or head trauma. Emergency rooms in the U.S. treat over 2 million seniors who have fallen yearly, and the number of those admitted to the hospital exceeds 800,000. Over 90% of the hip fractures that occur are the result of a fall, and most traumatic brain injuries occur in this manner also.
When these falls occur at nursing homes, there’s no excuse. Staff members are paid to look after our loved ones, and when they don’t and someone is seriously hurt in a fall, you need to take action. Call a Kansas City nursing home neglect attorney at Norton & Norton, P.C., to find out more about your loved one’s legal rights and options.
Conditions That Increase Risk of Falls
- Weakness in the lower body or difficulty maintaining balance.
- A lack of Vitamin D intake.
- Medications, including those for sedation, anti-anxiety, depression, or pain
- Blood-thinning medications
- Over-the-counter medications that may reduce steadiness and balance
- Poor vision or inadequate lighting
- Improper footwear
- Steps, throw rugs, or other objects that may lead to tripping
Outcomes of Falling in the Elderly
Falls can lead to broken bones, most commonly in the wrist, arm, ankle, or hip. Many falls result in head injuries, which should be checked by a physician for potential injuries to the brain.
Often, falls lead to physical and emotional decline, due to the limitations they create in mobility. It’s a vicious cycle: seniors are limited in daily activity, which leads to increased weakness, and a much greater likelihood of falling again.
Long-Term Care in Missouri
In Missouri, there are approximately 1,165 facilities classified as long-term care, with over 81,000 licensed beds. There are roughly 504 locations for skilled nursing care, 24 considered intermediate, 369 residential care, and 269 assisted living facilities. Some general characteristics of these facilities include:
- Residential Care: (RCFI): Up to 24-hour care providing meals, supervision, medication administration, and other short-term care.
- Residential Care: (RCFII): Up to 24-hour care providing meals, supervision, and medication administration. A licensed physician is available in these short-term care facilities.
- Assisted Living: 24-hour care, housing, meals, supervision, and medication administration. A licensed physician is available. Additional personal care assistance is available based on ability, need, and desire including bathing, dressing, walking, etc.
- Intermediate Care: 24-hour care, housing, meals, supervision, and medication administration. Basic healthcare, nursing services, and personal care assistance are provided, with a licensed nurse and physician available.
- Skilled Nursing: 24-hour care, housing, meals, supervision, and medication administration. Advanced healthcare, nursing services, and daily personal care assistance are provided, with registered nurses and physicians available.
However, understaffing is often a problem at nursing homes. Improper supervision is the main reason we still see falls happening in places meant to provide comprehensive care for the elderly.
Facility Monitoring and Regulation
Licensing and compliance of these facilities is managed by a combination of federal and state efforts. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is responsible for the national standards for compliance, while physical inspections are generally executed by state agencies and departments of health. In Missouri, the Department of Health & Senior Services (DHSS) is tasked with licensing and enforcement of all residential care and assisted living facilities. Skilled nursing centers require certification from a federal entity. Long-term care facilities must be inspected at least twice a year and federal surveys are conducted every 15 months. Inspections may be “unannounced” and may include interviews with residents, their families, and staff. Complaints, particularly regarding poor treatment such as neglect and abuse, are taken very seriously by the DHSS.
Nursing Home Injury Attorneys in Western Missouri
If you suspect that your loved one’s fall was due to nursing home neglect, contact DHSS. Mistreatment can be difficult to detect and frequently goes unreported. However, the lawyers at Norton & Norton, P.C., have the knowledge and resources to hold nursing homes accountable for negligence that leads to a resident’s personal injuries or wrongful death. Contact our office in Kansas City today at (816) 454-5800 for a free case evaluation.