Consider the following scenario: you’ve just had a serious conversation with your mother or father’s doctor. While you have done the absolute best that you can do, your elderly parent is now at a point where he or she is going to need a nursing home or assisted living situation to be properly cared for.
Naturally, you don’t feel great about this turn of events, but you do make sure to research and find the best place in your area for your parent, and that’s where he or she goes. Now, you’ve just gotten a call from the facility in which you were told that your parent fell and is injured. He or she was alone at the time and fell and broke a hip. This is a serious injury that usually requires surgery, physical therapy and a long recovery time.
The situation above may mean that you have a personal injury case. What you weren’t told was that when your parent entered that facility in the first place, he or she was supposed to have a fall risk assessment, with ongoing assessments done as his or her condition changed. The facility is supposed to implement specific steps to protect your parent from falling based on the results of his or her assessment. These can include bed restraints or alarms or having a person with your parent to help him or her walk and do things like go from the bed to a chair.
Many times, if a patient has fallen while alone and was left there for a period of time, it’s because of a failure to follow the fall risk guidelines that the facility itself created through its assessment. You can contact the Colorado Department of Human Services, which investigates matters such as daycare accidents and unexplained nursing home falls. The department will look into the matter, visit the facility and question workers and witnesses there. They can also issue a report that says the facility is in violation because they never performed a fall risk assessment or ignored the assessment they did.
Unfortunately, nursing home falls are all too common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that 33 to 50 percent of seniors in these facilities fall each year, which is around twice the rate of falls in the senior population outside in the community. The CDC says 16 to 27 percent of falls are caused by hazards in the facility, such as the wrong bed height and poor lighting. Unsurprisingly, the CDC also recommends doing patient fall risk assessments and responding to those results to help prevent falls from happening in the first place.
Even though you may have found the facility with the best reputation in your area, if your parent had an unexplained fall, you may need legal help to get to the bottom of what happened. Your parent may be entitled to compensation for his or her injury if the fall was avoidable a lack of action or proper care on the facility’s part led to it happening.
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