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Slip-and-falls in the nursing home can cause facial injuries

If you have a loved one in the nursing home, you hope that the facility is doing everything it can to protect him or her. Families trust that senior care homes anticipate the needs of the elderly and take steps to reduce preventable injuries and illnesses.

Several factors contribute to unsafe situations for your elderly loved one when he or she is in the care of a nursing home. Some places can be chronically understaffed, others fail to supervise a vulnerable person and others do not design the living environment for safety. When an elderly person falls, it can be fatal. Many times, elderly people can suffer traumatic facial injuries.

Facial injury stats

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association looked at data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and crunched the numbers for falls of nursing home residents over 60. The results of the study showed that over five years, 109,795 individuals who fell in nursing homes required emergency department care for facial trauma. Older women were the most vulnerable group, sustaining the largest number of injuries.

Recorded injuries of the face include lacerations, soft-tissue injuries and fractures. The injuries tended to occur when individuals came into contact with structures like furniture. Almost twenty-five percent of the injuries occurred when a person was getting into or out of bed.

Serious and preventable

A facial injury is both serious and preventable. This type of slip-and-fall injury has been classified as a "never event" by the National Quality Forum. The "never event" is a type of injury with effects that are so serious and deadly that they should never occur. Never events are preventable. Falls while in the care of a medical facility is a never event, but they still seem to happen with regularity.

This sobering fact sparked the research published by JAMA. They noted that since a significant number of falls happen while individuals are getting into and out of bed, this indicates an area where services can improve. Improving supports in this area will reduce healthcare expenditures and improve quality of life for people who reside in medical facilities.

Where to go for help

It is certainly upsetting and even tragic when you or someone you love is injured because of a fall in a nursing home. You may face unexpected medical expenses and lingering disability. A lawyer can help you analyze your case and guide you if you choose to pursue legal action.

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