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The risks of falls in nursing homes

As Americans age, many families are relying on nursing homes to help care for older relatives. In fact, an estimated three million people will live in nursing homes by 2030. These elderly family members often have complex medical situations and other needs that require around the clock care from specialized medical professionals. Since family members cannot offer care, they place their trust in these professionals.

Unfortunately, nursing homes can disappoint. Nursing home negligence can often lead to injuries, fatalities and other instances of medical malpractice. One area of concern is falls. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, falls occur at a much higher rate in nursing homes then they do in people's communities.

Reports estimate that between 50 and 75 percent of all nursing home patients suffer a fall each year. Furthermore, not only are residents likely to fall, the average resident is likely to experience more than one fall -- around 2.5 falls -- each year.

Falls can be dangerous for elderly people and often lead to nursing home injuries. Between 10 and 20 percent of falls will lead to serious injuries, and up to six percent of falls will cause broken bones. When patients fall they often suffer a variety of effects including depression, social isolation and further loss of physical function and a worsened medical condition. Additionally, around 1,800 people will die as a result of a nursing home fall each year.

When a nursing home injury -- like a fall -- is the result of negligence, the victim and that person's family may be entitled to damages. In these cases, people should make sure they understand all their legal rights. By speaking with an attorney, people can ensure that they are protected.

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