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Three common dangers facing nursing home residents

Thousands of nursing home residents are injured or killed each year due to poor care. In many instances, these tragedies were preventable.

New York residents have a right to expect their loved ones receive the best care in the nursing homes in which they reside. Sadly, this is not always the case. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are more than 1.4 million people over the age of 65 living in nursing homes across the country today. Each year, thousands are injured or killed due to substandard elderly care, including neglect and outright abuse. The following points illustrate some of the most common types of injuries or poor treatment present in nursing homes.

Falls

The CDC reports that an average of 1,800 senior citizens die in nursing homes each year as the result of falls. In fact, out of all fatal falls involving those age 65 and older, 20 percent occur in nursing homes. It is estimated that the actual number of nursing home falls is not known, as incidents are not always reported. Some of the most common causes of nursing facility falls include the following:

• Wet floors, bad lighting or objects to trip on

• Incorrect bed height, poorly maintained or fitted wheelchairs or improper use of walkers

• Medications that can cause dizziness or blacking out

If a fall does not kill a resident, it is likely to cause a serious injury. Up to 20 percent of nursing home falls result in injuries such as fractures or head injuries. A fall at an advanced age can greatly reduce a resident's quality of life and cause permanent disabilities.

Medication errors

Medication that is given in wrong doses, administered without a prescription or skipped altogether is responsible for numerous adverse health risks, including death, states The Washington Post. The blood-thinning drug Coumadin and its generic version have particularly caused harm. At least 165 residents in nursing homes have died or been hospitalized because of mistakes involving blood thinners. In some cases, patients had been given too much or too little of the drug, or caregivers failed to perform follow-up clotting tests. In at least one instance, a patient was given an additional medication that multiplied the effects of Coumadin and caused fatal bleeding.

Bed sores

Nursing home residents may be inadvertently or purposefully harmed by a health care professional simply by not being moved often enough. According to the Mayo Clinic, painful wounds called bed sores can develop from prolonged pressure to the skin, if bedridden or immobile patients are not able to move and relieve the pressure. Bed sores can become severe enough that the underlying tissue and bone is exposed. These injuries can be prevented by moving patients who are unable to move themselves.

It is heartbreaking when a loved one is harmed by someone entrusted to his or her care. Family members may wish to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss a nursing home negligence case.

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