As a Missouri Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer I receive calls on a variety of different cases involving nursing home abuse and neglect in Missouri. However, over the past five years, I have seen an increase in the number of calls involving nursing home falls.
Many nursing home residents need assistance with walking, transferring and, in some cases, even sitting in a chair. When a nursing home agrees to accept a patient, it is agreeing to do several things for that patient. For example, federal law requires that each "facility must conduct initially and periodically a comprehensive, accurate, standardized, reproducible assessment of each resident's functional capacity." 42 USC 483.20 Part of that assessment involves an analysis of the resident's needs when it comes to walking and transferring. If the patient is able to walk without any assistance, it will be noted on the assessment. If the person needs assistance, there is supposed to be notation on whether they need one person to assist or more.
Far too often in the past few years I have seen this section of the assessment left completely blank or the notation will conflict with other records. For example, in recent weeks I examined the nursing home records of an elderly woman who clearly needed assistance with walking. The assessment stated that she could ambulate independently, yet she had a history of multiple falls in this very same nursing home. The employees performing the assessments either didn't bother to review her previous medical records or completely missed the clear evidence that she was a fall risk. In that case, the patient suffered a fall and a broken hip that eventually took her life.
Falls can have deadly consequences for vulnerable nursing home patients. Family members should whose loved ones are at risk for falling should regularly communicate with the nursing home to make sure that everything that can be done to prevent falls is being done. Completely trusting the nursing home is generally a bad idea.
If you have a loved one in a Missouri or Illinois nursing home and you are concerned about the care they are receiving, call David Terry at the Terry Law Firm for a free consultation at (314) 878-9797
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