Georgia Nursing Home Residents Suffer Frequent Falls

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As an Atlanta nursing home injury attorney, I receive calls quite frequently from the families of nursing home residents who are upset by falls, and related injuries, loved ones are suffering at Georgia nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Inevitably, the families question how their loved ones were allowed to fall while under the care of trained elderly care staff.

My experience shows that there are a number of reasons elderly patients suffer falls while residing at nursing homes. First, as we know, elderly patients are often frail and unable to walk or stand securely. Yet, often there is no reason to suspect that a nursing home resident will fall simply because they have limited mobility. In other words, there are some circumstances where Georgia long-term care residents fall and there is no negligence by the facility. More frequently, the nursing home staff knows, or should know, that a particular resident is a “fall risk.” Most nursing homes are required to assess each patient at least a few times per year. During those assessments, the resident’s fall risk status is assessed. Limited vision, prior strokes, weakness, and other health factors contributed to a resident being a “fall risk.”

Obviously, falls are often devastating to nursing home residents and may result in serious injury (broken bones, hips, and head injuries) or death.

So, what can be done by Georgia nursing homes to minimize the chance a resident will fall and suffer injury? First, adequate staff should be hired and trained to care for patients. Next, patients should be escorted when walking in the long term care facility. Also, if a patient is wheel-chair bound, the facility should consider Velcro self-release straps and other “seat-belt” type measures. Residents who are a fall risk should be placed in low-rise beds with pads on either side in order to minimize injury if a resident falls from bed.

Georgia law sets forth rights for residents of nursing homes. Such rights may be found at O.C.G.A. § 31-8-133 et al. And, the federal government also provides for specific rights of residents at long-term care facilities.

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