Bed Falls

Nursing Home Bed Fall Lawyer 

Many nursing home residents are injured in falls when staff fail to move them safely out of a bed, or even as a result of improperly re-positioning a resident in a bed.  Sadly, falling from a bed can result in devastating injuries or even death.

Residents who need assistance in getting out of a bed are defenseless in trying to stop a fall, and often are unable to even put out an arm to try to minimize the impact of hitting the floor.  Broken bones and head trauma (including traumatic brain injury) are common injuries suffered in bed falls.

Are Nursing Homes Liable for Bed Falls?

In many cases, the answer is “yes.”

When a person falls from a bed in the process of being helped out of bed or being re-positioned, it is often because the staff failed to use proper care, or to follow proper protocols (such as ensuring that there are two staff members who are assisting in certain bed transfers).

For example, if an attendant is providing treatment and rolls a patient to the other side of a bed, and there is no one there to protect the resident, he or she may roll off the bed.  Because many elderly residents have lost significant weight, inadvertently causing a resident to roll out of bed is sometimes easier than one might imagine.  If another staff member assists on the other side of the bed, or if a guard rail was in place on the other side of the bed, these types of accidents normally could be avoided.

Similarly, bed falls can also result from nursing home staff failing to safely transfer a resident from a bed to a wheelchair.  As an example, the staff member may help a resident so that they resident is sitting on the side of the bed, waiting to be transferred to a wheelchair.  Instead of transferring the resident directly, the staff member may leave the resident sitting on the bed while going to the other side of the room (or even outside the room) to get additional supplies or additional assistance from another staff member to help complete the move to the wheelchair.  When the resident is left unattended while sitting on the side of the bed and the resident then falls, this is typically a sign of nursing home negligence.

We Seek Full Accountability When Residents are Injured

Nursing home staff have a duty to take steps to prevent avoidable falls.  If they fail to uphold this responsibility, the facility may be financially liable for any injuries sustained.

If your loved one fell out of bed and suffered an injury as a result of nursing home negligence, those responsible should be held accountable for their actions.  As Michigan nursing home bed fall lawyers, we invite you to call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can assist in seeking justice and the full and fair compensation you deserve without any upfront cost to you.

We represent clients injured in nursing homes on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you will only pay a fee if we secure a settlement or damages at trial.  We additionally advance the costs of litigation (these costs are normally repaid through compensation obtained in a successful lawsuit).

What are the Common Causes of Bed Fall Injuries?

Bed fall injuries can occur for a variety of reasons including:

  • Inability to use patient protective devices and equipment;
  • Failure to accurately assess a resident’s risk of falling;
  • Bedrail misuse or non-use;
  • Underqualified or improperly trained staff;
  • Failure to follow facility safety protocols;
  • Inappropriate transfer methods;
  • Improper positioning of a resident;

Nursing homes are expected to uphold a high standard of care for patients to ensure that they do not sustain injuries.  If these (or any other) shortfalls result in injury, the nursing home or care facility may be liable.  Fortunately, many incidents can be easily avoided if nursing homes take the following precautions.

What is Bed Mobility? And Why Is It Important?

Nursing homes should evaluate residents’ bed mobility to determine the potential risk of falls. “Bed mobility” is defined as the ability to perform specific motions in bed.  Testing for bed mobility can be conducted by nursing staff or a physical therapist.  Tests include:

  • Scooting up or down
  • Scooting sideways
  • Rolling over
  • Twisting and reaching
  • Lifting hips (as in bridging)
  • Moving from sitting to lying down in bed
  • Moving from lying down to sitting up in bed

If after evaluation it is determined that bed mobility issues exist, a nursing home should take extra precautions to prevent a resident from falling or rolling out of bed when administering care or during transfer.

Can a Nursing Home Care Plan Prevent Bed Fall Injuries?

It should.

It is vital for nursing homes to develop individualized Care Plans to keep residents safe.  A Care Plan sets forth what the nursing home will do to ensure the safety of residents and provides directions to the nursing staff and assistants regarding these matters.  For bed mobility, a Care Plan should include specific interventions to address a resident’s reduced bed mobility, such as:

  • Setting bed in a low position;
  • Keeping essential items close by;
  • Providing for a scoop mattress;
  • Designating a transfer method;
  • Indicating how many staff are required to assist the resident with bed mobility;
  • Using pillows or other devices to keep limbs in functional alignment;

What Can Be Done to Safely Transfer a Resident with Mobility Issues?

Fall incidents commonly occur during transfers to and from a bed, wheelchair, toilet, or chairs. Many injuries can be avoided by following basic patient safety protocols, including:

  • Ensuring that the proper number of trained staff attend to re-positioning and bed transfers
  • Avoiding forcing or pulling on the individual’s limbs;
  • Assisting the resident on their weaker side;
  • Minimizing shearing forces on the skin;
  • Maintaining all precautions set by the physician;
  • Ensuring that enough staff is present to assist in the transfer;
  • Maintaining balanced support;

To avoid a resident falling or rolling out of bed, it is essential that the nursing home staff follow the Care Plan.  If nursing home staff fail to follow a resident’s Care Plan, the nursing home can be held liable for any injuries that are sustained.

Many falls occur simply because staff try to take on more than they can handle, or they make a poor decision thinking that everything will be OK.  For instance, nursing home staff should never walk away and leave a resident with poor bed mobility lying or sitting on the edge of the bed unattended because of the risk of a fall.  The nursing home staff needs to make sure the resident is safe and bring supplies with them before placing the individual on the side of the bed, rather than leaving the resident to sit on the bed while the staff member gets the needed supplies – even if such supplies are only across the room.  Alternatively, the nursing home staff can call for help from other staff rather than leaving a patient in a precarious position in bed.

Momentary bad decisions – such as leaving the resident on the side of the bed alone for only a few seconds, or trying to move the resident from a bed to a wheelchair without getting additional assistance when such assistance is necessary – can easily result in a severe injury.

Can a Nursing Home Be Liable if My Loved One Fell Out of Bed on their Own?

If a resident does not have mobility issues and falls out of bed on their own accord (such as while sleeping), by sheer accident, or when staff is not around or assisting, it is usually difficult (if not impossible) to prove that a nursing home is liable without additional facts that the nursing home actually did something wrong.  As an example, if a resident had previously fallen out of bed and guard rails were prescribed, and staff failed to implement guard rails or failed to place them in the “up” position on the bed, a nursing home might be liable.

Call Us for a Free Consultation

If you are unsure whether a nursing home is at fault for a fall, call our office to schedule a complimentary consultation.  Our experienced nursing home neglect attorneys and our on-site nurses can review the facts and circumstances of your loved one’s injuries, including all information from their medical and health charts and the Care Plan developed for them.  There is also no cost for this review and investigation, even if your case is not accepted.

Once we have undertaken a medical assessment of the case, we can advise you as to whether we believe that a case for negligence exists, and the options that you (on behalf of your loved one or family) may have in seeking justice and accountability.

You deserve answers.  We’ll help in seeking accountability.