Nursing Home Injuries: Shocking Frequency & What To Do

When it comes to nursing home abuse, one case is too many. Which is why it’s shocking to learn that a quarter of all nursing homes receive a citation for seriously injuring a resident every year. Even worse, 5,000 deaths per year are the result of injuries that stem from neglect, and nursing home residents are more likely to fall than other elderly Americans. These stats are enough to make us all hyper vigilant when it comes to nursing home residents, so we wanted to talk a little about why injuries may occur and what to do.

Why Nursing Home Injuries Occur

Like other forms of nursing home neglect and abuse, there are a variety of reasons injuries occur at such a high frequency. One reason is the unavoidable circumstance of waning strength. Nursing home residents are often not as strong as they once were and suffer from muscle weakness. If a resident is less mobile than they used to be, but still wants to maintain their independence and tries to do something alone, they may fall or injury themselves. While this scenario is avoidable in most cases, it is not something completely in a nursing home’s control. 

Another, more unfortunate, cause of injuries is the use of antipsychotics and other drugs that would make the resident dizzy, impair their judgment, or sedate them leading to an increased number of accidents. Yet another cause of severe injury can be physical items in the nursing home like bedrails, insufficient lighting, narrow stairs, slippery floors, and hallways crowded with extraneous objects and obstacles. 

And, of course, another source of injuries could be physical abuse. In a 2017 study, a shocking 9.3% of nursing home staff members admitted to physically abusing elderly residents according to WHO. Broken bones, dislocated joints, bruising, burn marks, and hair or tooth loss can all be signs of physical abuse and injuries that lead to other health problems. 

What To Do

All instances of abuse should be reported to the proper authorities immediately. However, in general, there are some preventative measures that nursing homes and family members can take. For example, nursing homes can make sure all staff members are properly educated when it comes to patient risks and accident prevention strategies, they can encourage residents to join exercise programs, make sure their hallways and communal areas are cleared of all tripping hazards, install railings, and even make sure residents are receiving Vitamin D to help with mobility.

Family members and loved ones should stay vigilant and always check for signs of physical abuse. They can also make sure the resident’s room is cleaned up, only bring furniture and decorations that fit and do not clutter the space, regularly speak with staff about their loved one’s mobility and increasing need for assistance, and advocate for fewer medications that may cause dizziness or have a sedative effect. 

If you or a loved one have been a victim of neglect or abuse, call Gharibian Law (877-875-1119) for a free consultation and the best legal representation.