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Are new nursing home residents more susceptible to falls?

Residents of Queens who entrust their elderly family members to the care of nursing homes and assisted living facilities expect that they will be cared for and treated with respect. But all too often there are stories of nursing home neglect and resident injuries.

Facilities dedicated to the care of senior citizens must abide by certain standards of care and state health and safety regulations. When facilities fail to meet these standards, it may result in resident injuries.

A recently published study shows that one in five patients who are newly admitted to nursing homes fall within the first month. Researchers looked at Medicare and Medicaid data for over 230,000 residents new to 10,000 nursing homes in the U.S in 2006. The results indicated that 21 percent of those patients fell at least once during the first month of their stay.

The study also found a correlation between higher numbers of certified nursing assistants and a reduction in falls. Certified nursing assistants provide direct, hands-on care for the activities that require the most movement, such as using the bathroom and dressing. Therefore, more certified nursing assistants means that more patients have assistance when moving around.

Nursing homes are well-aware of the incidence of fall injuries, but new residents provide an additional challenge because they are in foreign territory and do not know the staff members. Even with this knowledge and awareness, these facilities are still liable for failure to prevent fall injuries if they are negligent in meeting the standards of care or providing an adequate number of certified nursing assistants or other assistive employees.

Nursing home negligence is a serious concern and the results of this study reinforces the fact that assisted living facilities need to continue working on efforts to prevent falls and protect residents from injuries.

Source: HealthDay News, "One-Fifth of Nursing Home Residents Fall in First Month," June 25, 2012

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