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Traumatic Facial Injuries Among Elderly Nursing Home Residents: Never Event or Frequent Occurrence?

traumatic facial injuries

 

An investigation recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association – Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery reveals that falls in nursing homes resulting in facial trauma are an under-appreciated occurrence.

According to the authors of this article, falls have been recognized as a significant clinical issue among the elderly nursing home population, but little attention has been paid to facial trauma.  Instead, most of the research to date has focused on head trauma or hip and extremity fractures.

In their investigation, the authors discovered that more than 100,000 facial injuries required emergency care during a 5-year period; this figure suggests that this under-appreciated occurrence contributes substantially to costs.  In fact, fall-related injury overall among the elderly population facilitates decreased independence, ultimately diminishing quality of life and costing society more than $60 billion annually.

Similar to falls that cause head injuries or hip and extremity fractures, facial injuries can also have devastating consequences, including an effect on speech, swallowing, sight, and other functional considerations.  

This article points out that in 2012, physician reviewers from the US Department of Health and Human Services retrospectively examined medical records from skilled nursing facilities, finding that 59% of adverse events were “clearly or likely preventable.”  

In analyzing how facial injuries occur, the authors were able to identify solutions to prevent these types of falls, including:

  • educating residents, family members, and nursing home staff about falls;
  • increased supervision of residents, especially immediately after relocation to a new facility;
  • using proper techniques to transfer residents to and from bed;
  • the use of bed alarms;
  • adequate staffing and supervision; and
  • appropriate bed height.  

Our law firm has handled a number of cases involving facial trauma, including a case on behalf of a 67-year-old woman who lost her eye when she fell and struck her face on her bedside table in a nursing home.

If a parent or loved one has been injured as a result of a fall in a nursing home, assisted living facility or adult foster care home, please call us so that we can learn about the facts and circumstances of your case.  We can explain to you the legal options that may be available to recover damages against those responsible.

We pursue nursing home and long-term care facility abuse, negligence, and wrongful death cases on a contingency basis.  This means there is no fee to us unless and until we recover compensation for you.