Hip fractures are the second most common cause of hospitalizations in residents aged 65 and older and the sad news is many of them could be avoided.
If you or a loved one suffers a hip fracture in a hospital, nursing home or long term care facility, it is important to understand the potential consequences of the injury and the legal remedies you could seek as a result.
Hip fractures can be avoided when proper care plans are in place. Unfortunately, one in five residents die within one year of a hip fracture.
There are two main types of hip fractures in elderly people and both can be very serious. Surgery is typically recommended to repair both types of fractures.
The femoral neck is just below the ball (head) of the ball-and-socket hip joint. This type of fracture can diminish, and sometimes stop, the flow of blood to the broken part of the bone.
Surgery is typically required to repair the fracture and return the flow of blood to the fractured area. With this type of fracture a partial hip replacement is completed to replace the fractured head of the ball-and-socket hip joint with a stainless steel or chrome cobalt alloy metal prosthesis.
Below the femoral neck (the head of the femur) is where the thigh bone comes out. An intertrochanteric region fracture runs between the two bumps (trochanters).
To repair this kind of fracture a hip nail (think of a large screw) and a metal plate are used to place the bones in the correct position. The hip nail and metal plate bring the bones together to heal alongside each other.
Many factors can contribute to a hip fracture in an elderly resident, they include, but are not limited to:
Because so many factors may contribute to hip fractures in elderly residents, it is important for a nursing home or long term care facility to have proper care plans in place. This means that the facility must do a thorough initial assessment when a resident is admitted.
After the initial assessment, the facility must continue to monitor the resident for any changes, including those that might contribute to hip fractures. If the facility completes a thorough intake and assessment of the resident, safety measures may be implemented to prevent resident falls and hip fractures.
If the resident is not assessed on a regular basis, changes in the resident’s condition may go unnoticed. If the changes in the resident are not properly investigated and documented by the facility’s staff members, the proper safety measures may not be in place to protect the resident. The safety measures, such as restraints or bed alarms, may be the difference between a hip fracture and a healthy resident.
The short answer is yes.
Studies have shown that hip fracture patients that do not have surgery compared to those that do have surgery have much worse outcomes, with pain and mobility being significant factors in the outcome.
Failure to undergo surgery can result in significant pain for the patient, including on pieces of broken bone rubbing together.
Other procedures may be used to manipulate the bones back to the correct position. However, this leads to increased time in bed, leading to a further decline in mobility and conditioning.
An unfortunate statistic of hip fractures in elder nursing home residents is that 20% of residents pass away within a year of the injury.
So why do hip fracture residents decline so quickly after being relatively healthy before a hip fracture? And why do the hip fracture residents rarely return to pre-injury status?
Hip fractures result in significant decline in mobility. You are much more likely to be confined to a bed or wheelchair following a hip fracture. This causes a decline in conditioning and muscle weakness, leading to further fragility.
A nursing home resident that suffers a hip fracture also usually has additional medical conditions. When the hip fracture occurs, the resident’s body comes under enormous stress due to pain, limited mobility, and oftentimes surgery. Often due to the resident’s age, pain and limited mobility, post-surgical complications are extremely common.
These post-surgical complications usually result in longer stays in nursing homes, and sometimes permanent placement in nursing homes.
Unfortunately post-surgical complications are common with elderly hip fracture patients. Patients may experience one or more of the following after undergoing hip fracture surgery:
The truth is that many hip fracture injuries are the result of accidents or falls that could have been prevented.
The following safety measures should be implemented to promote resident safety:
This will depend on the circumstances that caused the injury.
Nursing homes have a duty of care for all their residents and if it can be shown that they were negligent in that care and this caused the hip fracture then you may have legal recourse.
The legal team at Thompson Law have years of experience investigating and representing residents who have suffered many different forms of nursing home abuse and neglect.
If you’d like to find out more about your different legal options following a hip fracture injury, speak to one of our team today.
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