When an elderly or vulnerable loved one is hospitalized, you expect them to be treated with the utmost of care. That means taking steps to prevent your loved one from falling. Unfortunately, hospital falls are far too common, and they can cause serious injuries – especially in patients whose health is already fragile.
Who is most at risk for falls?
Adults aged 65 and older are most susceptible to falls. However, other factors can also make someone a fall risk. These include:
- A history of falls (A past fall doubles your risk of experiencing another fall.)
- Muscle weakness
- Trouble balancing
- Medications such as sedatives, tranquilizers, antidepressants and narcotics
- Problems with eyesight
While still recovering from the affects of anesthesia, post-operative patients are also at risk of falling and should be closely monitored.
Falls can cause serious injuries
Even patients with no history of fractures or broken bones can still suffer serious injuries in a fall. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- One-fifth of all falls result in serious injuries, which may include head trauma and broken bones.
- 95 percent of hip fractures result from falls.
- Falls are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries.
- Falls and related injuries result in about $31 billion in annual medical costs.
Even when they come away from a fall uninjured, many people become incredibly fearful of experiencing a second fall and decrease their activity levels. Unfortunately, this may cause weakness and make them even more susceptible to falls.
Falls can be grounds for a hospital negligence claim
Hospital falls can result from a combination of factors such as:
- Negligence on the part of individual staff members
- Absence of proper lifting/transfer equipment
- Lack of protocols for identifying and dealing with fall risks
- Inadequate supervision of staff or patients
- Insufficient training
If your elderly parent or other loved one suffered a fall while in a hospital, compensation may be available. Hospital negligence suits help victims and their families deal with medical bills, ongoing pain and suffering, and other related damages. These suits can also force hospitals to implement proper safety precautions, preventing future patients from similar accidents.