Subdural Hematoma After a Nursing Home Fall

Large left sided frontal parietal subdural hematoma with associated midline shift. Subdural hematoma as marked by the arrow with significant midline shift. Image: James Heilman, MD, 2012.

Nursing home falls are a leading cause of injury to the elderly nursing home population across Massachusetts. Not only do the elderly face a high risk of falls they are also at greater risk of serious fall-related injuries like brain bleeds.

Nursing Home Falls and Falls Injuries Are Preventable

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A brain bleed, which is also known as a subdural hematoma, is a potentially lethal injury that usually results when a resident strikes their head on a hard surface during a fall accident.

Roughly half of every nursing home resident in the United States falls every year and one third of nursing home residents will fall more than once. Falls that result in serious injuries typically results in death within 12 months. As a result, maintaining residents’ mobility and preventing falls should be nursing home’s top priority given the seriousness of the problem.

Most nursing homes have a fall prevention committee. The sole purpose of this committee is reducing nursing home falls. Nursing homes need to have a facility-wide fall prevention program in place. Federal laws require every nursing home to follow the same standard in order to prevent and treat falls. Federal Regulation 323 states that Nursing facilities must ensure that the residents’ environment remains as free of falls hazards as possible

Nursing homes must have a fall management program in place that focuses on the individual risk factors that each nursing home residents faces. Every resident needs to undergo an individual fall risk assessment when they are first admitted to the nursing home.

Federal Regulation 324 Requires Nursing Homes Meet Certain Safety Standards

Federal Regulation 324 requires every nursing facility to identify each resident that is at risk for fall accidents and to supervise at-risk residents and provide devices to prevent falls (i.e., wheelchairs or walkers). Nursing homes also need to perform periodic fall risk assessments on every resident after are admitted to the nursing home.

Facilities must also perform a fall risk assessment right after a resident has a nursing fall accident.

Federal Regulation 324 requires every nursing nursing home to perform a prompt, timely assessment after a resident experiences a significant change in condition. A fall-related injury is considered a significant change in condition. Therefore, it requires a prompt and timely assessment.

Large left sided frontal parietal subdural hematoma with associated midline shift. Subdural hematoma as marked by the arrow with significant midline shift. Image: James Heilman, MD, 2012.
Large left sided frontal parietal subdural hematoma with associated midline shift. Subdural hematoma as marked by the arrow with significant midline shift. Image: James Heilman, MD, 2012.

Subdural Hematomas

Because falls in nursing homes typically result in serious head injuries like brain bleeds or subdural hematomas elderly patients should always be checked for a head injury after every fall accident.

A subdural hematoma occurs after blunt trauma to the head causes bleeding outside the brain. As the bleeding fills the area outside the brain it begins to put pressure on the brain tissue. The increased pressure on the brain and brain tissue can be fatal.

The elderly population is three times as likely to sustain a subdural hematoma injury than others who are younger.  Additionally, anyone that is taking blood thinners or anticoagulant drugs like Coumadin, Warfarin, Heparin are more likely to develop a brain bleed injury.

Even a minor head trauma can produce a subdural hematoma in elderly nursing home residents that are on blood thinners.

Three Types of Subdural Hematomas

There are three types of subdural hematomas. They are classified based on when the symptoms first start.

  • Acute Subdural Hematomas: produce brain injury symptoms within 24 hours of the fall or blunt force impact to the head. One out of every three patients with an acute subdural hematoma also has either a cortical contusion, subarachnoid hemorrhage or diffuse axonal injury.
  • Subacute Subdural Hematomas: produce brain injury symptoms between 24 hours and two weeks after fall or blunt force impact to the head. This traumatic brain injury results in headaches, confusion, balance issues, speech problems.
  • Chronic Subdural Hematomas: produce brain injury symptoms two weeks after the fall or blunt force impact to the head. These subdurals are chronic in nature and not associated with a brain trauma injury. They mostly occur in people over the age of 50 who haven’t sustained a brain injury.

Did your loved one suffer a brain bleed, subdural hematoma or other brain injury as a result of elder abuse or nursing home neglect? Our lawyers can help.

It is important to work with a personal injury attorney to investigate the circumstances surrounding nursing home injuries to determine if the nursing home has any liability. If your loved one has suffered a brain injury or related complications, contact our law offices today for a consultation, where you can find out more information about whether or not the nursing home facility might be liable for compensation.

Our experienced team of personal injury lawyers can help evaluate the circumstances of an injury to help you determine if compensation might be available to you.

Boston Nursing Home Neglect and Elder Abuse Lawyers

We offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to help you understand your rights and the value of your case. Our personal injury law firm takes cases involving elder abuse and neglect. We offer legal service to clients in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.

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