Elders and Falls: The Danger and the Billion Dollar Price Tag

1Based on a 2012 study investigating the implications of injuries suffered by senior residents of nursing homes, some “24,190 fatal and 3.2 million medically treated non-fatal fall related injuries” were reported across the U.S. This startling figure demonstrates just how serious and prevalent nursing home injuries linked to falls can be. In the same study, researchers discovered that the 2012 related medical costs of these nursing home falls totaled $616.5 million for those falls that proved fatal, while another $30.3 billion in costs were linked to non-fatal nursing home falls.

Another disheartening aspect of the study revealed that those injuries and the related costs are on the rise. In 2015, nursing home fall-related healthcare costs jumped, with the cost of fatal fall injuries rising to $637.5 million, while costs related to non-fatal fall injuries rose to $31.3 billion.

Though the study highlights an injury epidemic across America’s nursing homes, it also detailed the profound economic impact that nursing home related injuries have on the healthcare economy and on the elders who sustain the injuries. The study also noted that the risk for falls—and the associated cost and economic impact of these fatal and non-fatal injuries—increases as nursing home residents age. The statistical risk factor continues to climb if the nursing home resident is a woman, as well.

But, what’s at the heart of this emotionally and financially taxing issue? It seems to be that nursing homes are often found negligent when it comes to enacting preventative measures to combat the risk of residents suffering falls. As more and more of the elder population in San Diego and across the country take up residence in nursing homes, it’s up to the administration and staff of these facilities to ensure that residents are provided a safe environment, are properly monitored to prevent injury-inducing accidents, and that the health of residents is well-supported so that risk of injury is limited.

It may also be that common tactics used by nursing homes to prevent falls may not be enough. For instance, bed restraints—often used when at-risk patients are liable to fall should they attempt to move about on their own—don’t prove as effective as nursing home staff might assume. Furthermore, some 16% to 27% of reported nursing home falls are related to hazards within the nursing home itself. Some hazards include, poor lighting and slippery floors, or an environment not well equipped to support safe movement, like appropriately placed railings or access to walking assistance equipment. Likewise, nursing home residents who are unable to walk are particularly likely to suffer falls, whether while being transferred from a bed to a wheelchair, or because of insufficient supervision by nursing home staff.

If you or a loved one has suffered a fall as a resident of a Southern California nursing home, there is legal recourse available to recoup the financial burden related to you or your loved one’s injury, and to seek justice under the law. Consult with a top San Diego elder abuse attorney today to learn the options available to you.

Walton Law, APC is a San Diego boutique law firm dedicated exclusively to representing injured parties in the areas of personal injury, nursing home abuse and neglect, and financial elder abuse. We only represent people – not insurance companies – and take pride in our reputation for obtaining full and fair compensation for our clients while providing personalized client service. If you believe somebody you know has been a victim of elder abuse in San Diego, CA, please call (866) 338-7079 for a free and confidential consultation.