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Don’t Fall for Negligent Hospital Care

Negligent hospital care is a leading cause of slip and fall accidents among all patient demographics. It is a problem that is especially harmful to elderly patients and those with compromised immune systems who are likely to have a difficult time recovering from their injuries.

The Size of the Problem

It is estimated that there are 3-5 patient falls recorded for every 1,000 hospital bed- days. Nationwide, it is estimated that this amounts to between 700,000 and 1 million falls per year. Of these, approximately 33% result in injuries including severe bruising, bone fractures, and head trauma.

Some estimates place the financial burden associated with these falls at upwards of $20 billion per year. While the financial concerns are significant, the greatest risk is to the individual’s health, quality of life, and life-expectancy which can be significantly reduced following a devastating fall.

The problem is especially pronounced within nursing home facilities where it is estimated that up to 50% of residents will experience a fall in any given year. Of those within Medicare skilled nursing facilities, the rate of serious injuries caused by slip and fall accidents is approximately 10%. For patients over the age of 65 who suffer a hip fracture in a slip and fall incident, the overall mortality rate is 300% higher than the general population.

Negligent Care Causes Falls

Negligent care is a broad term that can include the prescription of medications that negatively affect balance and coordination, failure to properly maintain facilities, and failure to adequately supervise patients while they are bathing, engaging in therapy sessions, or exercising.

Facilities cannot apply “one size fits all” solutions to prevent falls. Those that attempt this approach negligently place patients at risk of serious injury or death. Some measures such as the installation of non-slip floors, railings, cameras, etc. can benefit all patients.

However, hospital and nursing home facilities must still consider the needs of each individual patient and implement measures that will reduce the individual’s risk of falling. This includes consideration of the patient’s overall health, the presence of risk factors including diabetes and osteoporosis, the individual’s eyesight, mental acuity, etc. Facility operators and healthcare providers are negligent when they fail to correctly determine a patient’s risk factors and implement an appropriate and effective strategy for protecting the patient from a slip and fall accident in Illinois.

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