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Nursing Home Injuries: Accidents or Negligence?

Families place their elderly loved ones into nursing homes hoping to provide them with a high level of care. When those elderly loved ones sustain a personal injury in the nursing home, there is often a great deal of emotion and many questions. Families may feel that an accident is the result of abuse or negligence while homes may claim that the incident is the result of the aging process. In many cases, nursing home injuries can be traced back to a number of reasons:

1) Poor muscle tone. Our muscles can lose tone as we age, especially if we lead a sedentary lifestyle. Poor muscle tone can lead to slip and fall accidents and other injuries. However, a nursing home may be found negligent in such cases if patients are not given access to exercise options and health care which keeps their muscles in good condition.

2) Poor reflexes. As we get older, our reflex actions become slower. This can cause us to have falls or to be less steady on our feet. This can lead to nursing home injuries in many cases. However, nursing homes should have features which enhance safety for the elderly. For example, there should be grip bars in bathrooms and along hallways, so that people can grasp these bars to prevent a fall.

3) Poor nursing home maintenance. This is one situation in which the nursing home is held liable. The nursing home should have properly maintained grounds and floors, with clearly marked entrances and exits. The floors should be kept clean and free of debris. Any spills need to be cleaned up promptly and no-slip treads should be installed to help prevent accidents. All areas should be well-lit.

4) Medication reactions. Some reactions cause light-headedness and other symptoms which can cause accidents and personal injury. Nursing home staff should monitor dosages and medications to ensure that no medication interactions cause undue risks. Patients who are experiencing side effects from medication should receive extra help.

5) Poor eyesight. In many cases, illness and the simple process of aging can cause vision problems, which can make it easier for the elderly to fall or bump up against objects. It is the responsibility of the nursing home to provide adequate health and vision care and to ensure that there are no obstructions that are poorly visible. Signs and objects should have visible numbers and labels on them.