One of the most dreaded unexpected things happen to an older person is a broken hip. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 300,000 Americans ages 65 and up are hospitalized annually for hip fractures. Almost all of them occur because of falls.
Falls and the broken hips they cause are serious business in two significant ways.
First, research has shown that the direct economic cost that broken hips impose on the U.S. healthcare system is about $6 billion.
Second, when an elderly person experiences a hip fracture, it can be a life-changing event. In addition to the out-of-pocket cost to an often already-tight personal budget, it can lead to losing the ability to live independently.
Additionally, though, broken hips in the elderly population also cause a significant uptick in the risk of death. Women are more likely to break a hip than men. In the first year after a broken hip, they have a 5-time increase of death. Although hip fractures are less common among men, when they occur the first-year death rate increases by a staggering 8 times.
The need to prevent falls and broken hips is clear. That’s why accrediting guidelines consider patient falls sentinel events that have to be reported and studies, to try and avoid the circumstances from being repeated. One of the things that health care experts have learned from studying falls is that they can often be avoided with advance planning.
The standard of care requires hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities to take precautions against falls. This includes a nursing assessment upon admission of a patient’s fall risk and advocacy for appropriate physician orders to prevent falls. Additionally, nursing and physician staff should regularly reassess each patient’s fall risk and precautions at regular intervals through the admission.
As would reasonably be expected, when hospitals and facilities don’t provide adequate staffing of registered nurses, licensed vocational nurses, and nursing aides to take care of their patient census, falls increase.
We suspect this is one of the reasons that we’ve recently seen an increase in one bizarre type of case—patients admitted to a facility for treatment for a fall-related broken hip have another fall and fracture while under treatment.
When a patient is admitted to a hospital or facility because of a fall, it should immediately place the nursing and physician on notice that the patient has an increased risk of experiencing another fall. When healthcare providers fail to take action and appropriate precautions and it leads to an injury, it may be medical negligence.
If you’ve been seriously injured because of poor health care in Texas, then contact an experienced, top-rated and rated Houston, Texas medical malpractice lawyer about your potential case.