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What do you do if your family member or loved one falls in a nursing home or a hospital? Well, many times those falls are because the nursing home or the hospital failed to abide by the safety rules that they have. So, when a nursing home takes folks who cannot ambulate well or a hospital does as well or a long-term care facility, they have fall risk prevention or fall risk protocols. They are required to do a fall risk assessment which is a form that they set out different categories and depending on where the numerical values of those add up to then they declare that person a fall risk. If they’re on medication, if they’ve had falls in the past, if they have ambulatory problems, if they’ve had surgery, if they have dementia or confused, or if they have injuries to their lower extremities, and they actually chart the number of falls and the certain amount of period, the types of drugs they’re on, that kind of thing.

So, that fall risk assessment has to be done and then it has to be repeated so that the risk assessment for falls is as accurate as it can be. Once that fall risk assessment is done and someone is determined to be a fall risk, fall risk prevention protocols have to be put at place. You put a bracelet on someone that says, “I’m a fall risk.” You give them a call light so that they don’t have to get out of bed to use the bathroom. You put up rails. You give them a walker. You give them a cane. You put them in a wheelchair. You have two people to attend to them, to lift them from different places. You communicate to the infirm person about their risk of falls so that they understand it and they know the importance of getting help rather than being too proud to get help, and they get it, and tell them it’s only transitory, mainly temporary. This isn’t a permanent fall risk or a challenge or inability to get along. It’s temporary, and when they recover from that surgery, or they get back on their feet after a cancer treatment, or the heart issue that they’ve had, when they get stronger after that, then they’ll be fine at home, but it’s when they’re there that they’re not.

So, it’s only when hospitals or nursing homes or long-term care facilities don’t do a proper fall risk assessment or take these protocols that people fall and get injured. Those injuries can be serious. You can break bones. You can herniate discs. You can hit your head. You can go unconscious. There are all kinds of stuff. The types of instances where this has occurred are well-recognized in the literature, in the medical and nursing home literature, and we’ve seen this in many cases, well, in my law firm. I’m Gary Burger. My firm is Burger Law.

If this isn’t occurring, you need to visit with the care providers. Make sure that you see the fall risk assessment. Make sure that they are being accurately assessed for a fall risk. Say that. Talk to the care providers. Go to the director. Talk to the hospital’s or the primary care doctor. Make sure that those orders are being followed. Make sure that you’re a partner in the care that’s being provided to your parent or loved one or whoever it is.

If none of that is working, you can call the Illinois or Missouri hotlines for adult abuse. In Missouri that phone number is 800-392-0210. In Illinois, it’s 866-800-1409. They also have websites where you can get this information and make complaints or get the state of Missouri or Illinois the power of them behind with some type of an inspection. In Missouri, it’s www.health.mo.gov\safety. In Illinois, it’s www.illinois.gov\aging.

If none of that is working and you still have questions or need some advice, call us at 314-542-2222. In Illinois, it’s 618-272-2222, or our toll-free number at 866-599-2222. We’re happy to help you with questions and help make sure your loved one doesn’t have any unnecessary falls. Many of these falls are preventable if the health provider would have followed their rules and done the right assessments. You know they’re in the business of taking care of infirm people, people who can’t ambulate and that’s their business. They need to abide by the safety rules for that because if they don’t, a person can be unnecessarily injured. Thank you.

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