What is an internal injury?
An internal injury usually occurs after some kind of trauma occurs, causing internal bleeding which may require surgery. An internal injury may be caused by blunt trauma – when a part of the body hits something at a high speed, such as in a car accident or a fall. When this happens, the force of the hit tears or crushes internal blood vessels. Or, an internal injury may be caused by penetrating trauma – when an object pierces the body and tears blood vessels. Mild internal injuries sometimes heal on their own, but severe injuries often require surgery to stop the bleeding.
Symptoms of an internal injury often manifest right away, but in some cases, symptoms may be delayed and gradually worsen. A person suffering from an internal injury may experience abdominal pain or swelling, dizziness, light-headedness, fainting, tightness, pain and swelling in the legs, a headache, unconsciousness, and purple skin on the outside of the injury.
How is an internal injury caused by nursing home neglect or abuse?
Many elderly people are more at risk for internal injuries because they take anti-platelet and anti-coagulation medications. Elderly people are also more likely to experience falls, which can cause internal injuries. In nursing homes, internal injuries may occur when caregivers fail to provide residents with assistance in walking or getting in and out of bed, or when nursing homes fail to provide assistive devices like walkers and hand rails. Residents may experience falls when nursing home conditions are unsafe due to obstructed hallways, slippery floors, or poor lighting.
Internal injuries may also be a sign of nursing home abuse. Sometimes, caregivers may physically abuse a nursing home resident out of carelessness, frustration, or a need for control. If the abuse is severe, it may cause internal bleeding in the resident.
What should a nursing home do to prevent an internal injury?
Nursing homes are legally required to maintain a safe, minimal-risk environment for their residents. This includes keeping hallways and walkways clear and avoiding hazardous conditions like slippery floors and dim lighting or burnt out lightbulbs. Nursing homes should clean up spills immediately and regularly assess facility conditions to ensure a safe environment for elderly residents. Nursing homes should also provide residents with assistive devices and with individualized supervision and help from caregivers.
To prevent abuse, nursing homes should keep a close eye on staff and perform background checks on all new employees before hiring.
Additionally, nursing homes should closely monitor residents who may be more prone to internal bleeding because of certain medications or conditions, and should avoid giving residents anti-platelet and anti-coagulation medications except when absolutely necessary.
Can the nursing home be held responsible for an internal injury?
Under certain conditions, a nursing home can be held responsible for an internal injury. If this turns out to be the case, then that nursing home is required by law to compensate the resident financially. For example, if the resident’s internal injury required surgery, the nursing home may be required to cover the cost. If an internal injury resulted in death, the nursing home may be required to compensate the resident’s family for medical bills and funeral expenses. Along with these expenses, the nursing home may also be required to pay for an injured resident’s pain and suffering, and, in the event of death, for the family’s loss.
A nursing home will likely be held responsible if the internal injury was caused by abuse or by hazardous conditions in the nursing home. If the resident slipped on the wet floor of the nursing home and fell, or if a caregiver accidentally injured a resident due to a lack of medical training, the nursing home will likely be found at fault.