Did you know that slip and fall accidents are some of the most common types of personal injury? As a matter of fact, they are so prevalent that the National Safety Council (NSC) has counted them among the top three leading causes of preventable injury-related deaths. The other two causes? Poisoning and motor vehicles. Altogether, these three causes make up over 82 percent of all preventable deaths.
Unfortunately, many people do not take slip and fall injuries seriously. They may believe that victims of such accidents are simply exaggerating their damages in order to collect compensation. However, this could not be any further from the truth. In reality, over 30 percent of all preventable and non-fatal emergency department visits are due to fall-related injuries.
With all this in mind, it would not be dramatic to call slip and fall accidents a silent epidemic. This is especially true for certain populations that may be more vulnerable to such injuries. For example, slip and fall accidents are the single leading cause of injury for the elderly. The problem is so serious that nursing home residents are estimated to be twice as likely to experience falls than non-residents.
Slip and fall accidents have been linked to almost 2,000 nursing home resident deaths per year. Since this only takes account of reported incidents, it is likely that the actual number may be even higher. These figures may be shocking, but it makes sense when you think about it. After all, most nursing home residents are both elderly and infirm—meaning that they are generally more frail than non-residents may be. They may also be at higher risk of osteoporosis, meaning their bones are more fragile.
Still, most slip and fall accidents are preventable—just like any other type of accident. That is what makes education the most important possible tool of empowerment. Do you know what to do if you or a loved one falls victim to a slip and fall accident in a nursing home? In this blog post, we will give you a brief overview of how to prevent slip and fall injuries.
While it may be surprising to some, the number one cause of slip and fall injuries for nursing home residents is wandering. Yes, wandering. Because the elderly may not always be fully conscious of their physical abilities or their surroundings, it is not uncommon for them to overexert themselves by trying to stand up and walk around on their own. Many times, they do not realize that they are not fully capable of that sort of independent movement. Unfortunately, this can easily lead to an accident where their faculties fail them.
Nursing home residents may also have a slip and fall accident if they are under any medication, especially if said medication is psychotropic. Common side effects of psychotropic drugs include drowsiness, confusion, and sedation. They may even affect brain function. Patients who are already suffering from memory problems (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) will likely feel these effects even more strongly than those who do not. It is also possible for prescription medication to affect an individual’s blood pressure or blood sugar, which may make someone feel unbalanced or light-headed while standing up.
Of course, advanced age also brings with it its own set of risks. As you get older, your body undergoes some natural changes. This includes things like worsening vision and/or hearing, which may increase the risk that you will have a slip and fall accident. It is also not uncommon for immune systems to get weaker with age, making the elderly generally more susceptible to illness and decreased overall physical ability. Poor environmental factors (e.g., untidiness or poor lighting) may also increase the risks of being involved in a slip and fall accident.
For elderly nursing home residents, especially those who suffer from cognitive issues or need assistance walking, supervision is one of the easiest and most important tools of prevention. A quality nursing home will generally assess residents for fall risk before admitting them to the facility. They will also ensure that the nursing home staff will monitor and assist any high-risk residents. Make sure that you know that your loved one’s nursing home is prepared to assist them in the case of an accident.
There are many ways a nursing home can supervise its residents and ensure that they are in the safest possible environment for their specific conditions. For example, they may install call lights and bed alarms to prevent residents from wandering. Staff should also always make sure to minimize any potential environmental dangers (e.g., slippery floors or poor lighting).
Of course, it is also important to take proactive action in preventing slip and fall accidents as well. For instance, you may want to ask your loved one’s doctor or pharmacist to review their prescribed medications to minimize fall risk. It is also always a good idea for nursing home residents to undergo regular eye exams and get new glasses when needed.
It can be difficult to recover from slip and fall accidents, and it can be even more difficult to try to fight a case on your own. This is especially true for the elderly and infirm. You need someone on your side you can trust. Fortunately, you do not have to go through it alone.
If you or a loved one have recently been involved in a slip and fall accident, we at Injury Victim Law may be able to help. Though we are a Colorado-based firm, our team of experts and investigators is available to assist personal injury victims all across the country.
You should never have to pay for someone else’s mistakes. Contact us today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our experienced nationwide slip and fall accident attorneys. We have helped countless clients successfully resolve their slip and fall cases. We can help you too. Let us fight for you and get you the compensation you rightfully deserve.