Common Types of Nursing Home Injuries
When you have a family member or close friend in a nursing home, you put a lot of trust in the facility, the administration, and the caregivers who work there. You shouldn’t have to worry that something bad will happen while your loved one is under their care. However, thousands of seniors experience nursing home injuries every year. These are often the result of neglect and, in extreme cases, even abuse by the staff members. Here are the most common types of nursing home injuries.
Falls are the leading cause of nursing home injuries, with approximately 50% of residents experiencing a fall each year. Some estimates are even higher, yet nursing home centers continue to experience rising injury rates. Facilities remain understaffed, with high patient-to-caregiver ratios, which adversely affects the quality of care our seniors receive.
Elderly residents often have limited mobility, weak muscles and joints, or other medical conditions that make falls more likely without proper supervision. They may try to do things for themselves that are outside their ability. This can lead to a serious fall injury, such as:
- Hip fractures
- Broken limbs
- Head trauma
- Spinal injuries
These injuries can have a great impact on your loved one’s overall quality of life. They may not be able to get around as easily as they had once before, and they may grow resentful or depressed as they have to rely on their caregivers more. They may not be able to participate in social activities, and this isolation can greatly impact their mental health. It’s imperative that facilities have fall prevention programs in place to protect our vulnerable seniors.
If your loved one experiences frequent falls, you should be concerned that they aren’t receiving the attention they deserve.
Another frequent injury that’s experienced by nursing home residents are painful bedsores. These are wounds are caused when prolonged pressure is put on the skin, which reduces blood flow. When someone has limited mobility, they must be repositioned often to prevent these sores. Nursing homes have the duty to ensure that all caregivers are properly trained on this practice. However, overloaded and stressed-out caregivers may grow too busy to move residents as regularly as they should. If bedsores develop, they can become extremely red and uncomfortable. Left untreated, the bedsore may burrow deeper into the skin and grow infected, which can be life-threatening for the patient.
Many seniors have a special diet that they must follow to maintain their health, such as a low-sodium or low-fat diet. They may need to avoid eating certain foods, like dairy, to prevent digestive problems. Nursing home facilities typically work with a dietitian or nutritionist to ensure that every resident has an appropriate meal plan. However, sometimes these plans may not be followed correctly, or they may be ignored altogether, and the resident begins to exhibit signs of malnourishment.
These signs include:
- Unexplained rapid weight loss
- Easily fatigued
- Feeling weak or dizzy
- Extreme loss of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Declining mental state
If you notice any of these signs, you should contact the facility administrator right away to check up on your loved one’s eating habits. Malnourishment can lead to severe health problems, such as heart failure, respiratory distress, and even death, so you shouldn’t delay seeking answers. If the administrator can’t provide you with an explanation, contact a Bakersfield nursing home attorney for help.
Sometimes, elder injuries aren’t physical. When someone has been abused or neglected in a nursing home, they may also experience extreme changes in their behaviors or moods. Residents are often psychologically abused by caregivers and other staff members. This can happen through verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, or shaming the victim.
Psychological abuse can also happen through nonverbal means, such as isolating the elder from others, ignoring them, or refusing to attend to their basic needs. These can have lasting emotional effects for the elder as well as lead to a decline in their overall physical health.
Some health injuries can result from medication mismanagement by the nursing home staff. Seniors often have complex medical conditions that require multiple medications that must be taken on a specific schedule. However, when nurses or caregivers are too busy, residents may not get their medication as prescribed.
Medication mismanagement can lead to additional health problems, such as heart attacks, renal failure, drug toxicity, gastrointestinal ailments, respiratory failure, and other issues, even death. If you suspect that your loved one’s medication has been mishandled, you should take immediate action. This may include contacting the facility administrator, the police, and/or a lawyer who specializes in nursing home injuries.
What Can I Do to Prevent an Injury?
Some injuries can’t be prevented, but there are some steps that you can take to minimize the risk for your loved one, including:
- Visiting often – A patient who has regular visitors is less likely to be abused or neglected in a nursing home because staff members know that someone will be checking in frequently.
- Do your research – Before selecting a nursing home, make sure it comes highly recommended in your community. Meet with the administrator, ask for referrals, and check out any public reviews you can find for the center.
- Check for cleanliness – An unkempt facility can be a red flag for neglect. Inspect the grounds, the common areas, and your loved one’s room for cleanliness. A nursing home should adhere to high sanitation standards to ensure the health of their residents.
- Follow up on every incident – Even minor incidents can mean something’s amiss. Following up with also show that you care about the welfare of your elder loved one, which will reduce their risk of being harmed.
Been Injured? What To Do Next
Older adults may have difficulty speaking up for themselves if they’re being abused or neglected in the nursing home environment. They may fear being retaliated against by the staff. If you suspect that something isn’t right when you visit, you should try talking to them about the situation. If they seem hesitant to respond, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Speak to the caregivers to get more insight. If they can’t provide a reasonable response to your concerns, don’t hesitate to bring them up to the facility administrator. They should be able to investigate and give you some answers. If they also seem hesitant to help, or things grow even worse with your loved one, it may be time to consult a lawyer.
At the Law Office of Kyle W. Jones, we can help you get to the bottom of your nursing home injury case. We have extensive experience working with clients across the San Joaquin Valley, and our number one concern is ensuring injury victims are protected.
Schedule a Consultation Today!
If you or someone you know has experienced a nursing home injury in Bakersfield, don’t hesitate to reach out to our law office. We’ll sit down with you, discuss the specifics of your case, and provide you with informed legal advice. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that no one else is hurt by the offender. We will work hard to ensure they’re held accountable for their actions. Contact our firm today to schedule a free consultation.