Do you have an elderly parent who is currently in a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility?
If so, keep your eyes out for facial injuries. They’re a likely indicator that your mother or father has had a recent fall due to neglect. Facial trauma can range from the relatively mild (a few bruises) to severe (broken eye sockets or broken jaws).
The Center for Medicare Services and the Center for Medicaid Services both consider falls a “never” event in nursing care facilities and hospitals. In other words, falls are thought to be 100 percent preventable. That means that injuries from those falls that do happen are completely preventable.
According to research done using an electronic surveillance system, women over the age of 60 were the most common victims. Injuries among women also increased with age.
Lacerations were the most common facial injuries after a fall, accounting for more than 40 percent of all injuries. Bruises and other milder injuries accounted for a little over another 40 percent.
However, fractures were seen in 12.6 percent of patients. Broken noses were seen the most, while orbital sockets were broken around 8 percent of the time.
Most of the injuries came from falling against walls and other fixed objects (including the floor), although a significant number of patients — 22.6 percent — fell while getting in or out of bed.
A fall inside a hospital or nursing home doesn’t have to occur — and wouldn’t, if proper precautions are taken:
- Detailed screenings during intake to assess for fall risks
- Careful monitoring when a patient is being placed on a new drug or removed from an old drug until his or her balance can be assessed
- The use of bed monitors and alerts to let staff know if the patient tries to leave the bed unassisted
- Prompt responses to call lights if a patient has to go to the bathroom or needs something so that he or she doesn’t attempt to get up alone
When a patient falls and seriously injures his or her face, that patient may incur additional hospital time and expenses — plus suffer the painful healing and endure a potentially permanent facial scar.
Any victim of negligence that led to a fall and a serious facial injury should consider exploring their legal options for recovery through a personal injury case.