One of the common injuries sustained as a result of a fall in a nursing home is a hip fracture. Many nursing home residents suffer from osteoporosis (“brittle bone disease”) and the force of landing can cause the femoral neck, or the portion of the femur that inserts into the pelvis to break.
Once the hip is fractured, there are generally two options: one is to have surgery, the other is to forego surgery and accept that the hip will likely never heal and the resident will be bed-bound for the rest of his or her life.
If surgery is chosen, then the resident will have to receive cardiac clearance from an internist and likely a cardiologist before undergoing surgery. Having a hip repaired surgically is a major procedure that carries significant risks for a nursing home resident who likely had several pre-existing conditions even before the fall.
Some of the risks that are involved in the surgery itself and immediate post-operative period include: complications with anesthesia, uncontrolled bleeding, wound infections, and cardiac events such as stroke, heart attack, or pulmonary embolism. Once the acute post-operative period has passed some of the other risks include the development of pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, pressure sores, and risks associated with rehabilitation in particular falls and loosening of the orthopaedic hardware.
Foregoing surgery has its own set of grim consequences for a nursing home resident who suffers a hip fracture in a fall. The fracture will likely never heal, and the fracture fragments will be in poor position so any movement through the pelvic area including being transferred from bed to chair or being rolled in bed will cause severe pain. It also means that the resident will likely never bear weight on the injured leg again. Being bed and chair bound increases the risks that the resident will suffer from complications such as pulmonary embolisms, pneumonia, and the development of bed sores.
A hip fracture is frequently a cause of wrongful death as well. Often the hip fracture itself does not directly cause the death, but is instead caused by complications from the hip fracture such as those listed above. Depending on the study you review, a significant percentage (15-35%) of senior citizens die within 6 months of suffering a hip fracture due to complications.
Our law firm has frequently represented nursing home residents who have suffered a hip fracture. Please call our firm if you have any questions or would like representation. We are here to help.