Preventing Falls

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  • How big is the problem?
    • About 1,800 older adults living in nursing homes die each year due to fall-related injuries and those who survive frequently sustain injuries that result in permanent disability and reduced quality of life
    • Nursing home residents account for about 20% of fall related deaths of adults 65 and older
    • Each year, a typical nursing home with 100 beds reports 100-200 falls; many falls go unreported
    • About 35% of fall injuries occur among residents who cannot walk
    • Falls result in disability, functional decline, and reduced quality of life. Fear of falling can cause further loss of function, depression, feelings of helplessness, and social isolation.
  • Why do falls occur
    • Falling can be a sign of other health problems
    • People in nursing homes generally having chronic conditions and have more difficulty walking
    • Also tend to have thought or memory problems, to have difficulty with activities of daily living, and to need help getting around or taking care of themselves
    • Muscle weakness and walking or gait problems (24%)
    • Environmental hazards such as wet floors, poor lighting, incorrect bed height, and improperly fitted or maintained wheelchairs (16-27%)
    • Medications that affect the central nervous system
  • How can we prevent falls
    • Requires a combination of medical treatment, rehabilitation, and environmental changes
    • Fall prevention interventions can be implemented at organizational, staff, or patient levels
    • Fall interventions include:
      • Assessing patients after fall to identify and address risk factors and treat underlying medical conditions
      • Educating staff about fall risk factors and prevention strategies
      • Reviewing prescribed medicines to assess their potential risks and benefits to minimize use
      • Making changes in the nursing home environment to make it easier for residents to move around safely (grab bars, raised toilet seats, etc.)
      • Providing patients with hip pads that may prevent a hip fracture if fall occurs
      • Teaching residents who are not cognitively impaired behavioral strategies to avoid potentially hazardous situations
    • Physical Restraints
      • Routinely using restraints does not lower the risk of falls or fall injuries – they should not be used as a prevention strategy; they can actually increase the risk of fall-related injuries and deaths

Has your loved one fallen in a nursing home and hurt themselves? Unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control estimate that about 1,800 older adults die each year due to fall-related injuries, and those that survive can suffer from injuries that are debilitating and can alter their quality of life. Fear of falling can cause problems as well. When your loved one is afraid of falling they may start declining in their ability to function, as well as having feelings of depression, helplessness, and social isolation. Nursing homes can prevent this terrible accident, though, if they are vigilant in understanding each individual person’s needs and acting to keep them safe.


Falls can occur for many reasons. One of these reasons is that your loved one may have other health problems that can alter their ability to get around safely on their own, including chronic health conditions or thought and memory problems. These can prevent your loved one from getting around safely because they may not be aware that they have lost or are losing their ability to get around by themselves. Another very large reason that falls can occur is environmental hazards in the nursing home. Environmental hazards would include things like a wet floor, improperly fitted wheelchair, or poor lighting. This would make it easier for anyone to slip and fall, especially those who are in nursing homes for other health conditions.


It is the responsibility of the nursing homes to determine which individuals have a greater fall risk and minimize the risk of falling for everyone in general. After a resident falls, the nursing home should analyze their reason for falling and try to fix the problem so that it doesn’t occur again in your loved one or anyone else. The staff in the nursing home should be highly educated about falling and fall risks and know what to do in case of a fall to minimize the damage and harm to your loved one. Finally, nursing homes should make alterations in their facility to reduce the risk of falling. These alterations include things like handrails in the hallway, raised toilet seats, and lowered beds. Nursing homes should not resort to physical restraints to keep your loved one from falling for their own convenience because this can actually increase the risk of fall-related injuries and deaths.


The failure of a nursing home to properly train their staff in the risk of falls and to implement environmental changes to their facility to make it easier for residents to move around without fear of falling is unacceptable and can be considered abuse and neglect. No family should have to go through the trauma that is watching your loved one suffer from fractures and even death from something preventable such as a fall. If this has happened to you or someone you know, please call us today so that we can help you get justice for what happened. We would love to sit down with you and discuss how we can come alongside you and work with you to make sure the nursing home understands that what happened was not acceptable. We are experienced and willing to work with you, however you may need us. Please call our Greenville nursing home abuse attorneys The Dan Pruitt Law Firm today at (864)232-4273.

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