A slip and fall accident can be serious for anyone, but for an elder in a nursing home it can be catastrophic. The resulting injuries may be painful and life-threatening or fatal. For this reason, it’s critical that nursing homes take extra precautionary steps to ensure that their residents do not slip and fall. Visiting family members who see potential issues should notify staff immediately, and follow up to be certain that the facility addressed them. Documenting problem areas with photos and written notes that include dates and times can be included in claims against the nursing home should that become necessary.

Common Injuries from Slip and Fall Accidents

As we age, our bones become more brittle, our skin becomes more delicate. Reaction times slow. For someone who is advanced in age, falling to the floor is not a simple matter of breaking their fall and then getting right back on their feet. Instead, an elderly man or woman may land head first, causing a severe or life-threatening brain injury. A large bruise is painful but it can also cause blood clots, nerve damage, and reduced mobility. A broken femur can cause even a young and healthy person to bleed out and die.

Here are some of the most common types of injuries experienced by elders in nursing homes:

  • Sprained joint: knee, ankle, wrist, elbow. Sprains are common when the toe or shoe catches on mismatched flooring, torn carpet, or an object in the way. When someone falls, their body may twist in an unnatural way and place excessive weight on a joint that is moving in a way it is not intended to move. Sprains may be minor or they may be severe. A nursing home should ensure that their flooring is even and not needing repair. Objects should not be left in the way of residents as their depth perception may be lacking and overall sight may be far less than 20/20. 
  • Broken or fractured bones: arms, legs, wrists, hips, etc. Bones do not mend quickly after a certain age, and may not mend completely if one is elderly. This is a painful condition that can also decimate the individual’s range of motion and ability to walk, stand, lay down, or sit. Chronic pain can lead to insomnia, depression, anxiety, and trigger additional health concerns or conditions. A nursing home should have qualified medical personnel either on staff or on-call at all times.
  • Head or brain injuries: a brain injury can cause death within moments. A head injury may bleed profusely, causing great anxiety and serious health risks. Brain injuries, even when not fatal, can require delicate and complex surgery that may be too risky for those over a certain age and who may have certain existing health conditions. Cognitive behavior may be adversely affected after a brain injury, as well as motor skills, and overall quality of life.

If your loved one is a resident of a nursing home and they were injured while in their care, you may be best served by contacting a slip and fall lawyer in Des Moines, IA.

Thanks to Johnston Matineau, LLP for their insight into personal injury claims and slip and fall risks in nursing homes.