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One of the most common reasons a nursing home resident may sustain an injury is due to a drop or fall. These incidents often occur during transfers to and from a bed, a wheelchair, toilet, or chairs. They might also happen when staff is using a lift to assist with the transfer of a patient. Many times, the fall was caused by the negligence of the nursing staff.

You should contact our compassionate nursing home lawyer  if your loved one has suffered an injury while under staff care. The attorneys at Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C., will list to your story and discuss with you the  legal options and the right to compensation compensation.

How Patients are Dropped in Nursing Homes

Unfortunately, many drops and falls in Michigan nursing homes have to do with insufficient staffing and a lack of supervision. While the actions of a resident can result in their own fall, an error made by a nursing home staff member is a common cause of patients falling. These include drops that result from :

  • Transfers from a bed to a wheelchair, or vice versa;
  • A transfer to and from a wheelchair to shower or bath;
  • Transfer of a resident on or off a toilet or from one chair to another;
  • Resident is being placed in or out of a transportation van;
  • Transfers in or out of a transportation vehicle;
  •  Hoyer Lift transfers where the equipment is broken or not properly used by staff.

Many residents require one to one or even two person assists for transfers.  When there is not enough staff available to assist with the transfer, a fall is likely to occur.  Other times, the staff members are not properly trained in  transfer techniques.  In any situation of a resident injured from a drop, the likely cause was negligence.

What is Considered a Fall in a Nursing Facility?

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have an established definition of a “fall.”  The agency defines a fall as a “failure to maintain an appropriate lying, sitting, or standing position, resulting in an individual’s abrupt, undesired relocation to a lower level.”   This includes when a resident loses balances, trips, slips, stumbles, or falls for any reason at the facility.

Nursing Home Fall Statistics

Falls among nursing home residents occur frequently and repeatedly. Falls oftentimes result in disability, functional decline and reduced quality of life.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year from fall-related injuries. In addition, roughly 10% to 20% of nursing home falls cause serious injuries, according to the CDC.

Those who survive falls frequently sustain hip fractures and head injuries that result in permanent disability and reduced quality of life.

The bar graph below displays the number of total falls and fall injuries reported by adults aged 65 years or older from 2015-2016. Each category shows the health status of the individual prior to the fall.

Nursing home fall injuries health status chart - Buckfire Law

In 2003, 1.5 million people 65 and older lived in nursing homes.  Between half and three-quarters of those nursing home residents will fall each year.

The CDC reports that each year, a typical nursing home with 100 beds reports 100 to 200 falls. Many falls, unfortunately, will go unreported.

The map below shows the number of deaths per 100,000 falls from individuals 65 years or older. States with a more blue color show lower death rates than states who are colored in red. Michigan ranked 39th among states with 53 reported deaths per 100,0000 falls, according to the CDC.

United States nursing home deaths from falls chart - Buckfire Law

Common Reason for Residents Falling in Nursing Homes

Some falls may happen due to any number of circumstances regarding a patient’s condition, including any previous falls, age, abnormalities of gait and balance, and visual and cognitive impairment. Unfortunately, there are many factors that may contribute to a falls in Michigan nursing facilities, which include the:

  • Disorientation for confusion of the resident;
  • Conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia that affect the ability to understand the danger of falling from bed;
  • Medications that affect the coordination and stability of the patient to get out of bed without assistance;
  • Need to use the bathroom and presses the call light for assistance, but no one shows up to the room to help;
  • Physical and  medical conditions that affect steadiness and balance;
  • Need for assistance to get off of the toilet and staff does not come to assist;
  • Lack of necessary safety features in rooms, bathrooms, and showers;
  • Resident is injured during a transfer by a staff member;
  • Slip and falls on wet floors, spilled liquids, and food substances;
  • Trip injuries due to misplaced furniture, buckled carpets, and other defects.

It is the nursing home staff’s responsibility to do a proper assessment and determine if a resident is a fall risk.   The facility must also make sure the the building is free of hazards that cause the risk of a fall injury.  If  an injury occurs due to negligence in supervision or building maintenance, the nursing home is  legally responsible for the resulting injuries.

Serious Injuries After a Nursing Home Fall

Depending on the circumstances of a drop or fall in a nursing facility, the resulting injuries are often severe.  These include, but are not limited to:

  • Hip and femur fractures requiring emergency surgery;
  • Broken arms, elbows, and other orthopedic injuries;
  • Closed-head  and traumatic brain injuries, including brain bleeds;
  • Facial injuries, including damaged teeth and orbital fractures
  • Death from fatal falls

Many residents survive the fall but start a swift downturn in their overall condition.  An otherwise generally health resident may have a significant decline in health over the months after fall. Unfortunately, these often lead to death of the resident and medical examiners note that an “accident” was a contributing cause of the death on the Death Certificate.

Can you Sue After a Fall in a Michigan Nursing Home?

A nursing home resident who suffers an injury due to a fall has legal rights. Depending on the circumstances, a lawsuit can be filed against the nursing home and staff members responsible for the care and supervision of the injured resident.  Most cases are filed on the basis of “medical negligence” or “medical malpractice” as the responsible parties are working in a licensed medical facility at the time of the incident.  There are some cases that are classified as general negligence based upon the facts and the qualifications of the negligent caregiver.

How Much are Settlements for Nursing Home Fall Cases?

There is no “average” settlement or guideline to determine the amount of a nursing home settlement.  Every case is different for both liability and injury issues.

Compensation is demanded for both economic and non-economic damages  Economic damages are for medical expenses related to the care, treatment, and rehabilitation of the resident after the fall.  Non-economic damages are for the physical pain and suffering, disability, emotional trauma, and loss of enjoyment of life.

When a resident dies after a nursing home fall, the family members can file a wrongful death lawsuit.  These lawsuits demand settlements for the pain and suffering of the resident before death, the loss of companionship by family members, and payment of medical bills and funeral expenses.

Call our Michigan Nursing Home Fall Attorneys

If your loved one was injured after suffering a drop and fall in a Michigan nursing home, you should contact our experienced lawyers today.  We have won significant settlements and jury verdicts in cases involving injuries that occur in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.  We can help you!

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