Residents at nursing homes, skilled nursing centers and personal care homes are often at risk of falling. Unfortunately, because of age, underlying conditions and medications, the residents are more susceptible to serious injury even from a ground level fall. Broken hips, fractured arms and head injuries can often result. For this reason, each facility must take reasonable precautions to provide the resident with a safe environment free of fall hazards. When a facility fails to act properly and a resident falls as a result, the facility can be liable for resulting injuries and damages.
Many facilities that accept Medicare are subject to various federal regulations that require them to assess the residents and take measures to prevent accidents like falls.
42 CFR § 483.20 requires Resident assessment: “The facility must conduct initially and periodically a comprehensive, accurate, standardized, reproducible assessment of each resident’s functional capacity.”
After making such assessments, the facility should create a care plan to address the resident’s needs to ensure quality care is provided. 42 CFR § 483.25 provides: “Each resident must receive and the facility must provide the necessary care and services to attain or maintain the highest practicable physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being, in accordance with the comprehensive assessment and plan of care.”
According to the regulations this includes accident and fall prevention:
“(h) Accidents. The facility must ensure that— (1) The resident environment remains as free of accident hazards as is possible; and (2) Each resident receives adequate supervision and assistance devices to prevent accidents.” 42 CFR § 483.25(h)
Consequently, most facilities will conduct routine fall assessments of residents and put necessary interventions in place to prevent falls. These often include:
- Toileting plan for regular assistance to/from the bathroom
- Low bed positioning or placement
- Call button or other means of communication in place
- Bed alarms
- Moving the resident closer to the nursing station
When a nursing home, skilled nursing center, personal care home or similar facility fails to assess a resident to determine their risk of falling, or fails to put reasonable precautions or interventions in place, or simply fails to follow the precautions that are in place, and a resident falls as a result, the facility and/or its employees can be liable for all resulting injuries and damages.
If you or someone you love suffered an injury from a fall in a nursing home, such as a broken hip, a fractured arm or a head injury such as a brain bleed, contact an attorney at Burnside Law Firm for a free consultation to determine your legal rights.