FALLS IN NURSING HOMES – AGAIN

Dan and I have written about falls in Virginia Nursing Homes many times in the past. We have also represented families who have lost loved ones because of nursing home falls, or their loved ones have suffered great injury as a result.

In December 2009 I wrote about falls and whether they are preventable.

Last January I wrote about overmedication in nursing homes and how that can cause falls.

In today’s Roanoke Times, our local paper, a geriatric physician was asked by a reader, what could be done to prevent her Mother who suffers from dementia, from falling.

The physician writes, “understand that if Mom is falling at home, placing her in a nursing home will not change the fact that she will fall.”

“Hmm,” I wonder. “Shouldn’t 24 hour care be a good thing though? Shouldn’t Mom be monitored in a nursing home by numerous nurses, CNA’s etc. After all, it costs almost $5000 a month for a nursing home – if they can’t prevent falls, what’s the point?” I am wondering to myself this morning as I read his answer.

Despite the disclaimer that Mama will fall anywhere including skilled care, the doctor goes on to state “Mom may be better served in a nursing facility in light of her advanced dementia.”

Well, ok… but why?

If they can’t prevent her from falling, why put her in a strange facility where is not surrounded by loved ones?

I will concede that not all falls can be prevented – but I won’t concede that dementia means a nursing home is better for her. Nor will I concede that most falls can’t be prevented.

Families are really struggling with these decisions. I know this first hand. So my question is, if nursing homes can’t solve the problem here and prevent falls, why send Mama to one? Wouldn’t a new environment create new hazards etc?

I comment on the article only because I was sort of surprised the doctor was saying nursing homes cannot prevent falls. So why then, would you allow a loved one who is a known fall risk, enter a local nursing home that has already washed their hands of the problem by saying can’t be prevented?

Something to think about.

Lauren Ellerman

Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.