Many nursing home residents suffer from arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions that reduce mobility and make walking difficult. Without proper assistance from nursing home staff members, residents can easily fall and break bones, or sustain other serious injuries. In other cases, staff members intentionally cause bone fractures by physically abusing residents, such as hitting, kicking, or pushing. Carelessness or misconduct by nursing home employees may be reason to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. If your friend or family member broke a bone while living in a nursing home located in Pennsylvania or New Jersey, a nursing home abuse lawyer can fight for compensation on your family’s behalf.
Common Types of Bone Fractures in the Elderly
Any person can break a bone, but elderly people are at increased risk for several reasons. Not only do seniors often have vision, balance, and mobility problems that increase the risk of falling, but in addition, seniors also tend to suffer from osteoporosis: an estimated 52 million people aged 50 or older in the United States, according to the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF). This condition decreases bone density, making bones more fragile and easier to break. According to the IOF, nearly 9 million people suffered osteoporosis-related fractures in 2000 alone.
Impaired vision, osteoporosis, slowed reflexes, reduced balance, joint stiffness, and other age-related factors all contribute to falls and other accidents that cause bone fractures. Nursing home staff must take adequate measures to counter and manage these risks, such as supervising residents and providing physical assistance. If a nursing home employee fails to perform his or her duties properly, or if a staff member engages in deliberate abuse, the facility may be liable for any resulting skeletal injuries or joint injuries, including:
- Bone Bruises
- Interosseous Bruise
- Subchondral Lesion
- Subperiosteal Hematoma
- Bone Fractures
- Closed Fracture
- Comminuted Fracture
- Compound Fracture (Open Fracture)
- Oblique Fracture
- Simple Fracture
- Transverse Fracture
- Joint Injuries
- Ankle Injuries
- Cartilage Tears
- Dislocated Joints
- Hip Injuries
- Knee Injuries
- Shoulder Injuries
- Torn Ligaments
- Wrist Injuries
Symptoms, warning signs, and effects of a broken bone may include:
- Bone Protrusion
Any bone can break or crumble, though the skeleton’s thinner and more delicate bones, such as the clavicle (collarbone), are particularly vulnerable to cracking, shattering, or bruising. Examples of common bone fractures in nursing homes, assisted living communities, rehab facilities, and other skilled nursing facilities include:
- Broken Arm (Fractured Radius, Fractured Ulna, Fractured Humerus)
- Broken Back (Vertebral Fracture)
- Broken Fingers (Phalanx Fracture)
- Broken Hip (Pelvic Fracture)
- Broken Jaw (Mandibular Fracture)
- Broken Knee (Fractured Patella)
- Broken Leg (Fractured Fibula, Fractured Tibia, Fractured Femur)
- Broken Neck (Cervical Fracture)
- Broken Ribs
- Broken Toes (Phalangeal Fracture)
- Broken Wrist (Carpal Fracture)
One of the most serious types of nursing home bone fractures is a hip fracture, also known as a “pelvic fracture” or simply broken hip. Many of the people who contact our law firm have questions about a family member who broke their hip after falling at a nursing home. The next section explains how pelvic fractures happen in nursing homes, and discusses potential outcomes of pelvic fractures in seniors.
Nursing Home Falls and Pelvic Fractures (Broken Hips)
Broken hips, or pelvic fracture injuries, are among the most common and most deadly types of bone fractures that occur in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Hip fractures are almost always caused by falls – and falls are almost always caused by negligence or abuse. Falls can occur in nursing homes for various reasons that each involve caregiver neglect or elder abuse, such as:
- Employing inadequate nursing staff to monitor residents.
- Failing to maintain safe, uncluttered conditions in common areas. For example, a resident can slip and fall if common areas have broken, loose, or wobbly handrails, or if there are trip hazards like loose electric cables strewn across the floor.
- Failing to monitor a resident who is at high risk for falling, a common reason for admission into nursing homes.
- Failing to properly assist residents when walking.
- Hitting, punching, beating, or kicking a resident.
Any bone fracture can be dangerous without swift medical intervention. However, pelvic fractures are of particular cause for concern, not only because they are highly common, but also because they frequently lead to debilitating, potentially life-threatening complications.
Medical research has shown that pelvic fractures not only decrease independence by limiting mobility, but also lead to death in over one in 10 cases. One study published in the peer-reviewed medical journal Surgery showed that, when young people with hip fractures were compared against elderly people with hip fractures, the elderly people were significantly more likely to die from their injuries: 12.3% compared to 2.3%, even “despite aggressive resuscitation.”
Nursing Home Broken Bone Injury Attorneys Can Help
Legal help is available if your mother or father broke a bone at a nursing home due to the careless or abusive actions of an employee or another resident at the facility. Depending on when and how the injury occurred, your family may have grounds to sue the nursing home where the accident happened. It may be possible for your loved one to recover financial compensation in the form of an out-of-court settlement or jury award, including compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, emotional trauma, and other problems and expenses resulting from the bone fracture.
Nursing home abuse attorneys at the Wieand Law Firm, LLC represent seniors who suffered bone fracture injuries in Pennsylvania nursing homes and New Jersey nursing homes, including nursing homes located in Philadelphia, Camden, Cherry Hill, Warminster, West Chester, Malvern, Phoenixville, Downingtown, Broomall, Darby, Media, Havertown, Wyndmoor, Elkins Park, Glenside, Pottstown, Norristown, Mount Laurel, and dozens of other communities. For a free legal consultation concerning broken bones or fractures caused by nursing home neglect, call (215) 666-7777.