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Reports conflicted on PA nursing home fines and quality of care

Falls and bedsores are among the most common nursing home mishaps to occur. These incidents are often easily preventable.

Pennsylvania residents with relatives in nursing homes have every right to expect their loved ones are treated with respect and dignity, as well as a quality standard of care. Sadly, this is not often the case. In many nursing homes across the state, residents become victims of neglect or deliberate abuse. This can result in serious injuries, reduced quality of life and even untimely death.

During the second half of last year, there were more than triple the amount of provisional licenses and fines regarding regulation violations in Pennsylvania nursing homes than there were during the first six months, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This number represented the highest in Pennsylvania since 2009. Some of the most common elder care mishaps included fall injuries and bedsores. However, state the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, nursing homes throughout the state are performing better than the national average.

Falls and bedsores

Those with relatives in nursing homes may be better prepared to protect them from caregiver abuse and neglect by understanding the effects of the most common nursing home accidents, as well as what might have been done to prevent them. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every year about 1,800 nursing home residents lose their lives after a fall-related injury. Some of the most common contributors to a fall include the following:

• Medications that make the patient dizzy or confused

• Muscle weakness, previous injuries or other factors leading to difficulty walking on one's own

• Wheelchairs or walkers that are in poor repair or incorrectly fitted

• Environmental hazards, such as poor lighting, wet floors or beds that are set at the incorrect height

Bedsores are a common result when patients are unable to move on their own, according to the Mayo Clinic. These wounds appear when a person receives constant pressure in one site, such as the back, buttocks and ankles if they are bedridden, or the tailbone if they are always in a wheelchair. Bedsores may become so severe that the bone may be exposed and life-threatening infection can set in.

Preventing these accidents

How can residents be protected against such consequences? For those who are at risk of falling, staff should ensure that bed heights are appropriate and walking aids are properly maintained and fitted. Caregivers should be available to assist residents in walking to the bathroom or other areas as needed. They should also take care that floors remain dry and free of obstacles, and that hallways and common areas are properly lit. Additionally, bedridden or wheelchair-bound patients should be moved regularly to prevent the onset of pressure sores.

You may be entitled to compensation if your loved one was injured through nursing home abuse or neglect. An experienced personal injury attorney should be able to advise you of your rights.

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