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What is a Nursing Home’s Liability if a Patient Falls While They are Admitted to the Facility?

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What is a Nursing Home’s Liability if a Patient Falls While They are Admitted to the Facility?

Just like any other landowner, nursing homes are liable for a resident’s slip and fall or trip and fall on the property under the area of law called premises liability.  However, a nursing home is also liability under a medical negligence theory for residents who fall and are seriously injured.  As practicing Tennessee nursing home attorneys, we have seen many nursing home falls occur not because of a wet floor or slippery stairwell, but because of a nursing home’s failure to adequately guard and protect their residents who have increased risks for falling.

This is because many residents are admitted for health conditions that may increase the likelihood of falling, such as dizziness, vertigo, leg and hip injuries, fatigue, or other related conditions that may cause health complications.  You have to remember that a nursing home is a skilled medical facility which provides around the clock care for its residents.  This is opposed to an adult home, where there is no medical treatment other than possible medication supplementing.  Thus, a nursing home can be liable for mistakes in providing medical care, accidents on their premises, and nursing home abuse incidents.

When a resident falls in a nursing home, there are many factors and conditions that need to be taken into consideration by your experienced Tennessee nursing home attorney.  For instance, what protocols did the facility have in place to guard against falls?  What were the staffing requirements at the facility to monitor at-risk patients?  Does the medical chart of the resident who fell have a special notation in his or her chart to watch him or her for falling?

There are many causes of falling that a Tennessee nursing home attorney may find.  Some of these causes include the following:

  • Failure to monitor patients;
  • Failure to use patient protective devices;
  • Failure to properly assess a patient’s risk of falling;
  • Bed rail malfunction;
  • Failure to supervise at-risk patients walking in the facility;
  • Improper training of staff;
  • Medication errors or administrations that are incorrect or too soon or far in time as to cause patients to fall;
  • Wet or otherwise hazardous floors;
  • Improper positioning of the resident on a table, chair, or floor;
  • Damaged or defective walking aids such as walkers, canes, or other devices; and
  • Improper transfer methods by staff.

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As noted earlier, when a new resident comes to a nursing home a risk assessment to determine the extent of the risk of the new resident from falling; this should always be completed.  If the patient has a high risk of falling, the staff should utilize protocols to guard against the possibility of falls.  Many facilities will have implemented certain programs or protocols such as the following:

  • Bathroom checks – high-risk patients are checked more frequently if they are in need to use the bathroom as to prevent them from attempting to wander out on their own;
  • Bed positioning and height adjustments – high-risk patients are kept in lower beds which help to decrease the likelihood of serious injury should a patient fall from the bed;
  • Bed rails – use of rails to make it more difficult if not impossible to get out of bed without the assistance of another person de-latching the rail from the other side;
  • Bed alarms – just as the name implies, this are alarms that will alert staff should someone attempt to get out of bed or remove a bed rail; and
  • Increasing staffing needs – having an adequate number of staff members is required when there are more patients who need increased supervision and help.

Failure to take into account the risk a resident has of falling could also be against state regulations and laws.Whereas it will certainly be against the nursing home’s protocols in place to guard against resident’s falling.

Here at Bailey and Greer, PLLC our nursing home fall attorneys understand how to effectively pursue your claims.  Our legal team has a proven track record of compassionately representing our clients injured in Tennessee personal injury cases which is included in our testimonials page and our successful case results.  Please contact us today to receive your free case evaluation by dialing 901-680-9777.

By |June 21st, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

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