Two Key Contributors to Nursing Home Falls
Falls are an ongoing, serious problem in our nation’s nursing homes. Residents tend to be older and frailer than senior citizens living in the general community, so it’s not a shock that their number of falls per person, per year, is higher. However, other factors come into play that needlessly elevates the figures.
Two significant factors that heighten the risk of falls are the overuse of psychotropic drugs and understaffing. Psychotropic drugs affect the mind, emotions, and behavior, and may cause muscle spasms, dizziness, and drowsiness—thus increasing the risk of falls. Although federal law forbids it, there are too many instances of psychotropic drugs being prescribed for the convenience of staff to make patients more compliant (chemical restraints).
Understaffing is a serious issue as well. If the staff is stretched too thin, they can’t tend to all their duties in a timely fashion, and residents suffer. Some residents may make ill-advised attempts to do things themselves due to lack of response. Nursing staff often work without enough rest, making them more vulnerable to mistakes and oversights. Understaffing also feeds the temptation to overprescribe psychotropic drugs. All these factors result in a rise in resident falls.
Falls can result in fractures and head injuries, and precipitate a steep decline in overall health and quality of life. Roughly 1,800 residents die as a direct result of falls each year. The fear of falling can also lead to depression, social isolation, and a further decline in overall function.
If your loved one has experienced a fall under questionable circumstances at a nursing home, contact a nursing home abuse attorney to protect their rights.