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Study says falls, facial injuries common in nursing homes

Nursing homes are supposed to keep your relatives from getting hurt -- that's often the sole purpose of putting someone who is elderly and infirm into one.

A new study, however, suggests that many nursing homes simply aren't putting enough care into the safety of their patients -- especially when it comes to falls. This conclusion was reached after studying data available on the number of facial injures suffered by nursing home residents over just a five-year period.

Using the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS), a research tool that contains data on virtually all injuries that are reported to emergency rooms throughout the nation, it was determined more than 100,000 nursing home residents had to be seen at hospitals for facial injuries within the five years being studied.

A lot of the facial trauma amounted to cuts and bruises, but almost 3,000 cases involved serious fractures. Most of the fractures were in the nasal area or on the orbital bone -- areas that are painful and hard to heal even for the young and healthy.

Of those cases, a little over 22 percent of the falls happened when the patient was being transferred either to or from a bed. However, the vast majority of facial injuries occurred when the patient fell on "structural housing elements" or some other fixed feature in the nursing home. This indicates that patients who were unsteady on their feet were likely moving back and forth to their bathrooms or otherwise walking without adequate assistance.

Falls are considered a "never" event by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services -- in other words, they are something that should never happen and can be prevented when the right precautions are taken. The data from the study, however, says that there's plenty of room for improvement in the quality of care being provided to the nation's seniors.

If your elderly relative ends up with a serious facial injury while in a nursing home, talk to an attorney in order to determine if negligence may be a factor. If it was, you may have good cause to sue for compensation.

Source: McKnight's The News You Need, "Researchers seek face-saving interventions," Emily Mongan, Staff Writer, May 06, 2017

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