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  • Swinehart Consulting, LLC

Nursing Home Fall Cases: Elements, Claims & Insights

Updated: Jul 27, 2020

Pura Figueroa, 93, fell and suffered a facial laceration and subdural hematoma; she died a few days later. Pura Figueroa had Parkinson’s disease, and dementia and so lived at Muskego Nursing Home until her fall. Following the suit, her estate alleged that the nursing home did not correctly monitor Pura, failed to train its employees, and did not provide adequate staff. In turn, the nursing home claimed that there was at least another employee onsite when Pura fell. Nevertheless, the judge reached a verdict for wrongful death at $200,000, although both parties later reached a post-verdict settlement for an undisclosed amount [1]

This is an example of the many nursing home fall cases seen every year across the U.S. Currently, over 100 to 200 falls nursing home fall cases occur each year per nursing home; this takes up the majority of their emergency room visits [2]. Over 20% of these falls are mostly fatal [3]. Even worse, the Centers for Disease Control states that most nursing home fall cases go unreported, where there are no accurate data on how these accidents happen.

Who Bears The Liability?

There are many nursing home residents with medical conditions such as vertigo, leg and hip injuries, fatigue, walking difficulties, muscle weakness, and gait problems. These health conditions increase their chances of falling. However, environmental hazards, changes in medications, lack of supervision or damaged walking aids can also cause falls.

Usually, these individuals require assistance. They need applicable fall prevention programs and nursing home care plans tailored to their needs to prevent fall incidences. Such care plans include active monitoring, providing necessary equipment, reviewing medications, and post-fall assessments [4].

Falls are typically direct consequences of running understaffed facilities, improper care techniques, working with unqualified employees, failing to provide an adequate care plan, lack of methods to avoid environmental hazards, etc.

When a resident falls in a nursing home, the nursing home attorney must look at all conditions and factors that may have led to the event. In the industry, we call this a “root-cause analysis.” For instance, what protocols do the nursing home have in place to prevent falls? Do they meet the staffing requirements? What does the medical chart of the patient have about watching him or her for falling? Are the tools and equipment up to date or defective? Was there a hazard such as slippery floors? Were walking aids appropriately positioned? These are only a few of such questions that must be critically analyzed to determine what went wrong in the first place. Therefore, it’s a question of a thorough evaluation of the circumstances leading to the fall.

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