Liability if a Nursing Home Resident Suffers a Head Injury
Posted by PKSD Law Firm on November 9, 2021 in Nursing Homes and Elder Rights
Residents in nursing homes may often suffer injuries in the very place that is supposed to protect them. From broken bones, cuts or bruises, these falls can be quite risky for an elderly person. Head injuries are one of the most common – and serious – types of injuries residents sustain in a nursing home. Sometimes a head injury may even be fatal for a resident. If a resident does recover, he or she may experience a permanently reduced quality of life.
Today’s blog discusses more about head injuries in nursing homes, including who may be liable, either for the injury or for how the resident’s care was handled afterward.
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Head Injuries and How They Often Happen in Nursing Homes
Head injuries are one of the biggest risks for the elderly in long-term care. Residents with certain age-related issues, like decreased balance, reduced vision and diminished reflexes, are especially at risk for falling and suffering a head injury.
Residents may also sustain a head injury when:
- Dropped by caregivers while being moved or transported
- Not receiving proper mobility assistance for toileting and at other times
- Negligent monitoring allows a resident with known issues to wander off
- An abusive caregiver roughly shakes or strikes a resident
- Another person, either purposely or accidentally, causes a resident to fall
- A resident is taking medication known to impact balance
Nursing homes are responsible for taking reasonable measures to help reduce the chance of residents suffering a fall, such as:
- Having a medical professional examine a resident to determine if there are known issues that could increase his or her likelihood of falling
- Getting a full medical history of each resident and monitoring those on certain medications that are known to affect balance or increase the risk of bleeding
- Providing non-slip mats in shower stalls, bathrooms and other areas where they are needed
- Being diligent to remove potential tripping hazards throughout the facility (i.e. loose rugs, electrical cords)
- Mounting handrails in hallways to help support residents as they walk, or in case they trip or get lightheaded
- Adding more lighting to ensure residents can see better and avoid unexpected tripping hazards
Risks Residents Face Following a Head Injury
If a resident does suffer a head injury, he or she should immediately be examined by a doctor and monitored for signs of a head injury. There are several serious risks an injured resident may face after sustaining a head injury including:
- Concussion: A milder form of brain injury – literally, like a jolt to the brain – that often clears up on its own in a few weeks to months, depending on how severe it is
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI): A more significant injury that could cause long-term temporary or permanent damage to a resident’s brain
- Subdural hematoma (brain bleed): A very serious condition that could cause death if left untreated. Brain bleeds are the result of a head injury severe enough to burst blood vessels between the brain and outermost membrane. Symptoms are not always immediate and in fact, could be delayed for hours to days. The injured resident must be carefully monitored for any signs, such as pupils that are unequal in size, severe headache, vomiting, dizziness, confusion and weakness on one side of the body. Residents taking blood thinners have an increased risk of a subdural hematoma following a head injury.
When Nursing Homes or Staff May Be Liable
A nursing home may be liable for a resident’s head injury if negligent actions either led to the accident and resulting injury or if proper protocol was not followed after the incident occurred.
- Failing to provide proper mobility assistance to a resident known to suffer from dizzy spells if it led to a patient’s fall
- If a resident taking anticoagulants (blood thinners) suffered a head injury and proper protocol was not followed by the facility afterward
Long-term care facilities are expected to know about and monitor residents with known issues. They are also legally required to develop, implement and follow a care plan for residents. Not only should this care plan be developed shortly after a patient’s arrival to the facility, but it should be regularly monitored and updated as needed.
Call PKSD When You Need Experienced Legal Help You Can Trust
The team of legal professionals at PKSD is deeply committed to protecting the elderly community, especially those who rely on long-term care facilities for their well-being. Residents have a right to feel safe and to receive proper care in their nursing homes.
If your loved one suffered a head injury in his or her nursing home and you suspect negligence may have been a factor, we are prepared to help. Our Wisconsin nursing home abuse lawyers are ready to discuss your situation in a free and confidential case review.
While there is no legal obligation to hire our services, if we do represent you, there are no upfront costs to pay. We are ready to fight for the maximum compensation on your behalf, and we only get paid if you do.
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