Factors Involved in Slip-and-Fall Injuries | Ways to Minimize the Risk of Injury
According to nursing home advocates, a typical 100-bed nursing home sees up to 200 fall injuries every year. The Centers for Disease Control reports that up to 1,800 nursing home residents die every year from injuries sustained in slip-and-falls. Here’s a look at what the CDC considers to be the most common causes of slip-trip-and-fall accidents in nursing homes:
- Environmental hazards caused by staff negligence—This category includes wet or slippery floors, failure to use appropriate rails on beds, incorrect bed heights, failure tomonitor residents, inadequate lighting, and carelessness when using a wheelchair. These factors account for about 20% of all nursing home falls.
- Physical challenges of residents—Ambulatory challenges, muscle weakness, or gait problems are a factor in about one of every four slip-and-falls in a nursing home.
- Medication effects or reactions—Often, drugs prescribed to nursing home residents can affect balance or reaction time, making residents more susceptible to slip-and-falls.
- Poor foot care, improperly fitting shoes, and problems with walkers, canes, and other walking aids
To minimize the risk of a slip-and-fall injury, the CDC recommends formulating a fall prevention plan for loved ones in nursing home care. That plan should consider the factors listed above, as well as the layout of the facility, the resident’s room, and places the resident regularly goes. The plan may include:
- A recommendation for exercises or physical therapy to strengthen muscles or improve balance or gait control,
- Specific measures to keep the living area free of obstructions or debris, and
- An assessment of all medications, with an eye toward minimizing those that cause dizziness or disorientation and increasing those that improve or minimize loss of bone density.
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