Many nursing homes are multi-story buildings. In those buildings, residents are exposed to an additional risk of injury from nursing home falls: the stairwells.
Many nursing home residents are at high risk for falling for a variety of reasons relating to general musculoskeletal issues which produce weakness and balance issues. However, those assessments are done on flat surfaces – because that is the expectation that those are the only surfaces that the residents will be using. There should never be a situation where residents will have open, accessible stairwells because the risk of falls and injuries are multiplied.
In a well-run nursing home, stairwells should never be an area that residents can access. This means that the stairwell should be secured:
- Using an automatic door closing device that closes the door quickly and forcefully so that it closes completely every time after someone passes through it;
- With a lock that can only be opened with a key or with an access code that is kept hidden from residents and changed frequently.
When a resident is able to access a stairwell, a fall down the stairs is the likely result. A fall down the stairs is hazardous for people who are not nursing home residents. This is even more so for nursing home residents because so many of them suffer from osteoporosis, or brittle bone disease. This means that multiple fractures is a very likely result of a fall down the stairs.
Compounding the seriousness of the kinds of injuries that are likely to result from a fall down the stairs in a nursing home is the likelihood that the fall will go undiscovered. After all, the stairwell is an area which is not under the direct observation of the nursing home staff and not in a direct care area so no one will discover the fall in the ordinary course of providing care on the floor. This can result in the wrongful death of a nursing home resident, especially if they suffer a brain bleed from the fall or have internal bleeding from fractures.
Falls down stairwells are things which really should not occur in nursing homes. Careful investigation of the facts and circumstances of any case involving a fall down a stairwell in a nursing home will include contacting outside first responders such as police and fire department personnel to get their account of what they found when they were called to respond to the discovery of the fall. Further, nursing home floor staff where the resident entered the stairwell and facility maintenance staff should be questioned closely about the use of the stairwell.
Our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers are ready to investigate and prosecute any Illinois nursing home fall, especially stairwell accidents in nursing homes. Contact us to get answers about what happened and why and about what your rights are.