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The dangers of nursing home falls

Many things can go wrong in a nursing home. Unauthorized medication may be given to a resident, patients may be subjected to inadequate nutrition, employees may abuse residents and negligent monitoring may leave an individual susceptible to harm. All of these issues can be quite serious, placing innocent and vulnerable individuals in harm's way. Another major problem is nursing home falls, which can easily occur if a patient is not properly watched or given support.

When an elderly individual falls, the results can be tragic. In fact, Florida saw more than 1,700 fall-related deaths amongst the elderly in 2009. Nearly another 42,000 hospitalizations resulted from falls. Estimates show that 75 percent of non-fatal spinal cord and traumatic brain injuries suffered by elderly individuals in the state were caused by falls. Though these falls can occur in any number of ways, including tripping over a rug or getting knocked off balance by a pet, it is important for Florida residents to know that many of these falls occur in the nursing home setting.

Recovering from a nursing home fall can be difficult. An individual may be subjected to extreme pain and may be left with a physical disability. Additionally, financial concerns may arise, as medical attention will likely have to be sought to treat any injuries. In some cases, an individual cannot recover from fall injuries and passes away as a result.

If an individual is hurt in a fall caused by nursing home neglect, then the victim or family members may be able to take legal action against the nursing home. Filing a claim may lead to compensation for the victim's damages, but it also might help raise awareness of this issue and hopefully spur these institutions to give their residents the attention they need.

Source: Florida Department of Elder Affairs, "Florida Falls Prevention Initiatives," accessed on Feb. 7, 2015

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