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Questions about Brain and Head Injuries

What causes brain and head injuries in nursing homes?

Unfortunately, brain and head injuries occur in nursing homes across the United States. For the elderly, a brain injury can be devastating, leading to mental, physical, and behavioral disabilities and wrongful death. Often, the cause of the injury may stem from poor supervision and inadequate staff training.

What neglectful conditions might lead to brain or head injury?

Falls: Nursing homes are required by federal law to provide each patient with personal assistance and assistive devices (such as wheelchairs, walkers, canes, etc.) as needed. Poorly supervised or purposely neglected residents can experience falls that lead to traumatic brain and head injuries.

Improper Patient Transfer: As more acutely ill patients are moved from hospitals to nursing homes, staff must manage a greater number of patient transfers. This may include moving the patient from the bed to a chair or wheelchair or helping the patient move from a wheelchair to a commode. A safe transfer begins with proper training, adequate staffing and the right equipment to facilitate a proper transfer. Unfortunately, some nursing homes fall short of the requirements necessary to ensure patient safety. This can lead to brain, head and other injuries.

Anoxic Brain Injury: Anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain receives inadequate oxygen. Smothering, choking or otherwise abusing an elderly patient can reduce oxygen supply to the brain, leading to traumatic brain injury from which the patient may never recover. Other causes of anoxic brain injury include failure to supply the patient with supplemental oxygen, medication errors and getting caught between the bed rails.

Physical Abuse: Some nursing home staff members experience frustration, a lack of patience, and even anger. In some cases, staff members have been reported to have shaken, struck or smothered residents, leading to devastating brain injuries. Bruises on the patient’s arm may be a sign of physical abuse. Additionally, bleeding in the brain, evident on a brain MRI, may be a positive indication of abuse.

How often do nursing home falls occur?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 2.6 falls per year in the nursing home setting. It is reported that 10% to 20% of nursing home falls result in devastating injuries for the patient. Of this percentage, about 1,800 nursing home residents die each year due to falls, many of which may have been prevented with better supervision and staff training.

Why is nursing home abuse underreported?

Many nursing home residents suffer from other health conditions that may affect memory, understanding, and communication skills, such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. These residents may not realize abuse is occurring or may be unable to communicate their experience. Abused residents may be fearful of reporting the incident due to embarrassment or the threat of retaliation. Knowing the signs of potential neglect and abuse, and visiting your loved one frequently at different times of the week, may help to keep your loved one safe.

What should I do if I suspect brain injury in my loved one?

Unlike many other types of injuries, detecting a brain injury can be complex, since symptoms can be understated. If you suspect your loved one has been injured by a caregiver, or if your loved one has died under suspicious circumstances, consult nursing home abuse and neglect experts to learn more about your legal options.

In Phoenix, Arizona, Cullan & Cullan are the lawyers are also doctors who may be able to help you fight nursing home abuse and neglect suffered by your loved one. Please contact us today to schedule your no-cost, confidential consultation.


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