Falls: When are they negligence or abuse?

With a loved one in a nursing home, every day can be a challenge. You know that their health is declining and that they need more support to do the things they would have been able to do on their own in the past.

That's why you weren't surprised the first time you heard that they'd fallen. You thought they had just forgotten to call for help and decided to get up on their own. Of course, nurses can't be everywhere all the time, so falls happen when they're least expected.

What you found out later was that your loved one had indeed called for help, but after waiting for 20 minutes, no one had come for them. So, they shifted their weight over to the wheelchair and rolled over to the window to open it for some fresh air. When they stood to get up, they forgot to put on the brake, and they fell as they attempted to stand.

When is a fall a nursing home's fault?

In this case, the call for assistance went unnoticed, and your loved one felt they had no choice but to take steps to do what they wanted to do on their own. Not responding to a patient's call for help is a serious problem. Nursing home staff members are always supposed to be monitoring their call lights. If a patient calls, a nurse or aid responds shortly. Not responding simply isn't an option, for reasons like above.

Generally speaking, it shouldn't take more than four or five minutes for a response to a call light, even if it's to stop in and make sure the patient is okay. A call light could indicate that a patient has fallen and was able to reach the button to ask for help, or it could be a call to go to the restroom. There is never a time when it's acceptable to make a patient wait for a half hour, hour or longer, because some situations are time-sensitive and simply cannot be delayed. Delaying responses can result in serious injuries and even death in worst-case scenarios.

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