Jan 21, 2015

Let me set the stage. Your mother's doctor has a heart-to-heart conversation with you and you've done your best but your mother is in a situation now where she really is going to need more of an assisted living or nursing home setting to get by. You feel terrible, you feel guilty. What do you do? You go and find the best nursing home around. You research it, you visit it, you talk to the staff, you see the patients and they look healthy, they look like they're being taken care of so you have your mom check in.

Now you've gotten a call stating that your mother fell. She was unattended, she fell and she broke her hip. Is that a personal injury case? It might be. What you didn't know is that when your mom got brought to that nursing home to begin with, what's supposed to happen regularly as her condition changes, is she's supposed to have a fall risk assessment, and based on how risky it is likely that she is to fall, they're supposed to implement specifically regulated things to protect the patient from falling. That can include bed alarms or restraints or simply having an accompanying person or two, walking and transferring them. Also, how you transfer them from bed to chair, those sorts of things, all regulated by the fall risk assessment.

What I find generally is that when a patient falls unattended and particularly when they then stay there for some undocumented period of time, that is a failure to follow the fall risk guidelines that they themselves evaluated an prescribed your mom. A second thing that we have that's useful if you're not sure whether there was a violation is actually the Colorado Department of Human Services because our state investigates nursing homes and daycare facilities and those sorts of places and they will investigate falls caused unexplainable falls caused in nursing homes.

If you contact the Colorado Department of Human Services, they will begin an investigation and these investigations are thorough and they will visit the site and they will question folks and they will do the sort of discovery that I can't do without suing the facility, and they make hard determinations and they're not afraid to say that the nursing home violated by never doing a fall assessment or they violated the regulations by doing a fall assessment and then largely ignoring it.

The other thing you need to understand about nursing homes is they're being bought up by big mega corporations and one of the first things they're doing is taking those experienced, well-paid, longstanding employees, and they're replacing them with cheaper help, and fewer of them. What I'm seeing in my practice is a greater influx of folks that inexplicably are depositing their loved ones in facilities that they have every reason to believe will take care of and maybe for years did take care of them and suddenly you've got a bunch of unsupervised, unattended falls with really grave injuries.

Not supervising somebody who falls is both a violation because it violates the regulations about the fall assessment but it also would be usually a number count of employees per patient that we usually find a violation, too. The simple fact of the matter is by the information I know right now, your mother fall, unattended, and has hurt herself. You need to take it to the next level, and if you have questions about that, we're always here to help.

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