Hospitals and nursing homes have a responsibility to their patients. Many patients at these institutions are at high risk of suffering an injury from a fall. The staff is responsible for the assessment of every patient's risk of falling, and ensuring that the bedrails are placed in an upright position for patient at high risk of falling. If this basic precaution is not taken, and the patient falls, injuries can result.
Hospitals and nursing homes have protocols that concern the safe transport of patients. However, when there is a failure to follow these protocols, patients can fall, leading to serious and possibly life-threatening injuries. These injuries can include hip fractures, skull fractures, subdural hematomas, broken bones, and spinal cord injuries.
Causes of hospital falls include:
- Failure to monitor patients,
- Failure to use patient protective devices,
- Bed rail malfunction,
- Improperly used restraints,
- Unsupervised walking of at risk patients,
- Patients becoming disoriented due to medication errors, and
- Slippery floors or hazards causing slip and fall accidents
When hospitals and nursing homes work prevent falls, a staff member should conduct a risk assessment to determine the extent of the risk of the patient for falling. If the patient has a high risk of falling there are some strategies that can be used to minimize the risk.
Toileting Program - As is done in nursing homes, hospitals should have staff periodically check on high risk of falling patients to see if they need to use the bathroom. This will also make sure patients will get to go to the bathroom when they need to go.
Bed Position - Lowering the bed and placing a mattress beside the bed decreases the likelihood of a patient being injured should they fall.
Addressing Anxiety - Increased anxiety increases the likelihood that a patient will fall. Decreasing anxiety either through medication or other strategies will help address this issue.
Increased Supervision (need for adequate staffing) - When a patient is at risk of falling it is important that the not be left alone. Staff should be there to check on the patient as often as possible and if there is a call bell they should be in a position to respond quickly.
Bed and Chair Alarms - Doctors will sometimes ask nurses to install chair or bed alarms. These alarms are pads that will alert somebody if the patient tries to get out of bed or a chair. Once the alarm sounds, the nurse will be alerted and should respond immediately. This will provide the patient with proper supervision and keep them from falling.
If serious injury has been suffered by you or a loved one due to hospital or nursing home negligence, you should contact a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. They will investigate your case thoroughly to determine the factors that led to the accident and whether negligence played into the incident. They will then work to purse the compensation you deserve.
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