Often, family members are unable to provide the care and attention needed to their elderly loved ones. As such, a record number of our country’s seniors are being placed in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. With the influx of new residents, some nursing homes are unable to maintain adequate staffing levels to provide quality care. As a result, over worked staff, working with fewer and fewer resources, are more prone to neglect residents. Unfortunately, nursing home neglect can result in all types of physical injuries, including head trauma.
Falls at Nursing Homes are a Common Cause of Head Trauma
Head traumas are commonly the result of falls in nursing homes. In fact, injuries from falling in a nursing home or assisted living facility make up many of the cases that our firm handles. Seniors, and nursing home residents in particular, are more susceptible to falls due to mobility and coordination issues, mental incapacity, and simply having advanced age. Falls not only happen when the resident is walking without assistance, but are quite common in other scenarios. For example, transitioning from bed to walker, or to and from the toilet. Obviously, seniors are more likely to suffer grave injuries from a fall than younger persons. This makes falls a serious health issue for nursing home and assisted living facility staff.
Nursing homes may be held liable for the injuries sustained by residents in falls. First, nursing homes are required to assess the risk of falls in each resident, and to adhere to certain precautions to reduce the risk of falls. For example, some residents will need to have bed rails, or have their beds lowered. Some residents, like those suffering from dementia or mental incapacity, are a far greater risk and therefore require more hands-on care to prevent falls. When a nursing home fails to take these steps, they can be held responsible for the damages caused.
In some cases, the nursing home fails to properly assess an injury after a fall. For example, failing to recognize the symptoms of a head trauma can have grave consequences. In other words, even though the resident fell, the conduct of the nursing home after the fact may result in a graver injury. In a recent case, our client fell, striking her head. Had the nursing home observed her diminished capacity and acted in time, the doctors could have saved her. Unfortunately, she passed away several days later due to a subdural hematoma. When a nursing home does not assess the extent of an injury, even though the signs are there, they can be held liable for the resulting complications.
Intentional Wrongful Conduct at Nursing Homes May Cause Head Trauma
Head trauma can also be a result of intentional, wrongful conduct of nursing home staff. Untrained personnel, tasked with overseeing more residents than is feasible, often leads to poor treatment. In order to get residents quickly changed, cleaned, fed, or moved, staff may have a tendency to get inappropriately physical. Or, particularly where residents are non-cooperative or lack the capacity to make transitions smoother, the staff may strike out, either as punishment or in frustration, or both. Regardless, there is absolutely no excuse for this behavior. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as the guilty staff, may be held responsible for injuries resulting from physical abuse and neglect.