Falls are a significant cause of death and disability for senior citizens.
This is why it is so important that nursing homes assess residents for fall risk and develop fall prevention care plans for residents who are considered fall risk patients.
When nursing home residents fall, serious injuries often result, most commonly elderly hip fractures.
This is because osteoporosis (brittle bone disease) and use of anticoagulant (blood thinning) drugs are common among nursing home residents.
One common type of injury suffered in nursing home falls is a hip fracture. They frequently occur when a nursing home resident falls back or to one side.
There are two types of hip fracture
- There is a bone known as the femoral neck which joins the thigh bone (or femur) to the pelvis. The hip is a ball and socket joint, and this is just below where the ball is.
- Another place to commonly find a fracture is where the hip juts outward. When the fracture happens here, this is known as an intertrochanteric fracture.
When a nursing home resident falls, these are common places to find fractures, especially when the resident has osteoporosis. Both a fracture of the femoral neck and an intertrochanteric fracture are both commonly referred to as a “hip fracture”.
Hip fractures almost always require hip fracture surgery if the nursing home resident is going to be able to walk or stand again. The exact kind of operation that will have to be performed depends to some extent on the location and severity of the fracture.
There are three kinds of operations that are commonly performed:
- Intermedullary nailing – a rod, referred to as a nail, is passed through the femoral neck and secured with a screw
- Partial hip replacement – where the damage is sever e enough, the head of the femur may be replaced with an artificial replacement
- Total hip replacement – this is done where the socket is damaged or there was severe arthritis of the hip before the injury. In this kind of procedure, both the ball and the socket are replaced.
Each of these operations are major surgery.
Hip surgery for elderly patients carry significant risks
Operations of any kind carry significant risks for senior citizens, but the disability experienced following hip fracture raises the risk of death substantially. Some studies indicate that the mortality rate among senior citizens during the one year after a hip fracture is approximately 25%. When death results from a complication of hip fracture, this is a basis for a for a wrongful death lawsuit.