The number of our country’s elderly being placed in nursing homes and assisted living facilities is on the rise. This is because family members are unable to provide the care and attention needed for their loved ones. As the number of residents grows in long-term care facilities, the number of neglect cases also grows. This is often because nursing homes are not able to keep the appropriate level of well-trained staff. Consequently, over-loaded nursing home personnel, servicing higher numbers of residents, mean more chance that neglect is going to happen. Nursing home neglect comes in all forms, and can result in all types of physical injuries, including sprains and dislocations.
Nursing Homes Falls are a Common Cause of Sprains and Dislocations
Sprains and dislocations are often the result of slip and falls. Such physical injuries are quite common. At Schenk Smith, a good number of our cases involve falls that result in sprains and dislocations. Our nation’s seniors, and nursing home residents in particular, are more susceptible to injuries from falls. This is because, on average, seniors have more issues with mobility, hand-eye coordination, and in some cases, mental capacity. Simply being of an advanced age also increases the likelihood of falls even if no other characteristic is present. Even so, falls do not just occur because a resident is walking without assistance of the nursing home staff. Injury from other types of falls are common. Transitioning to and from bathroom facilities, like the toilet or the bath, for example. Senior citizens are more likely be harmed as a result of falls. As such, falls should be a primary safety issue for nursing home and assisted living facility staff.
In Georgia, long-term care facilities may be held responsible for injuries sustained by residents in falls. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required by State and Federal statutes to take certain precautions to prevent falls. In fact, facilities are obligated to conduct fall-risk assessments of residents. Depending on the resident’s fall rating, the facility will be required to take certain actions. For example, some residents should be provided with a fall-risk bracelet and a door magnet or flag to alert the staff. Some residents, like those suffering from mental incapacity, may require other safety items. When a nursing home does not take these steps, they can be liable in a civil action.
Failure by the nursing home to properly care for the patient after a fall can also lead to liability. For example, failing to link extensive bruising or lack of mobility to sprains or dislocations can have grave consequences. In a recent case, our client fell and began exhibiting massive bruising near her neck and shoulder. She was also unable to dress herself or to push herself in her wheelchair. Even despite these telltale signs of a fall, the nursing home staff did not attempt to assess her pain or take her to the doctor. In fact, she had fractured her collar bone. As a result of this injury, as well as a head trauma that she received in the fall, she later passed away. In short, even though the resident fell, the conduct of the nursing home after the fact was the direct cause of the lawsuit. When a nursing home does not properly recognize and assess the extent of an injury, they can be held liable for the resulting complications.
Abusive Conduct by Nursing Home Staff May Cause Sprains and Dislocations
Sprains and dislocations can also be a result of intentional, abusive conduct of nursing home staff. As mentioned, nursing home staff are overseeing more residents than is possible nowadays, which leads to poorer treatment. In order to get residents quickly cleaned, fed, changed, or moved, personnel may get inappropriately physical. Or, especially with non-cooperative residents or those residents who lack capacity to make transitions smoother, the staff gets overtly physical. Regardless, there is zero excuse for this conduct. Nursing homes and assisted living facilities, as well as the guilty staff, may be held responsible for injuries resulting from physical abuse and neglect.