The Dangers of Falls and Hip Fractures in the Elderly

hip fracturesOur firm has represented many elderly nursing home residents – or their families – who have suffered debilitating hip fractures after a preventable fall.  Often times, those hip fractures caused a rapid and crippling decline in our clients’ health and quality of life.  Sadly, hip fractures and complications have also resulted in death.

Nursing home residents are prone to falls for a number of reasons. Physically, the elderly often have poor balance, muscle weakness, loss of coordination, and decreased vision.  Residents with dementia or Alzheimer’s experience confusion, which can contribute to hazardous situations such as forgetting to use a walker, or asking for help moving around.  Environmental hazards within a nursing home can cause fall accidents.  Wet floors, uneven flooring, poor lighting, unstable furniture, and even damaged wheelchairs present obstacles for the elderly.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a typical nursing home with 100 beds reports 100 to 200 falls each year.

Hip fractures are common in the elderly.  More than 95% of hip fractures in the elderly are caused by falls.  The elderly suffer hip fractures more frequently because of conditions such as osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak and brittle.  Surgical intervention is typically necessary to fix a hip fracture.  Recovery from major surgical procedures is difficult for the elderly who already have compromised immune systems and are frail.  Complications arising from hip surgery include frequent and severe bone and blood infections, limited mobility, bedsores, and intense pain.  The CDC states that complications following hip fractures contribute to a large proportion of fall deaths, with 20% of those deaths occurring within a year of the injury.

Falls and hip fractures are common in nursing homes.  However, nursing homes are not automatically liable for injuries and complications arising from a fall.  Our nurses review medical charts and histories for each case to determine if there is negligence.  If you or a loved one was suffered a hip fracture as a result of a fall, our office can help.