Written by Valerie Creel with contributor Kristi Van Winkle
Falls pose a significant risk across all age groups, contributing to injuries, disabilities, and fatalities. This blog post delves into the importance of understanding falls, shedding light on the complexities involved in navigating legal cases related to falls. Although this topic may seem straightforward, there are many factors that impact a person’s risk of falling and measures that should be taken to keep them safe depending on their level of risk. Understanding these points will help navigate the legal implications of this topic.
Statistics reveal that falls account for a substantial portion of injury-related emergency department visits and deaths, comprising about 60% and 50%, respectively. Injuries from falls can range from minor to major, each coming with its own set of potential complications. As the population grows, these numbers relating to health care visits are expected to rise, emphasizing the urgency of addressing fall risks.
Individuals are susceptible to falls due to various factors, such as gender, living conditions, and health history. Environmental hazards and underlying medical conditions like syncope which is loss of consciousness, heart issues such as heart attacks or low blood pressure or heart rate, strokes, certain medications, mobility problems, and more contribute to the complexity of fall causation. Legal nurse consultants play a vital role in deciphering the multifaceted issues surrounding falls and potential associated injuries. Understanding causation is an important part of fall related care in any setting and is paramount for a legal case.
Given the severe consequences of falls, healthcare professionals emphasize the identification and prevention of fall risks. Healthcare facilities adhere to standards of care, utilizing assessments and screening tools to identify at-risk patients. Fall risk precautions, tailored to individual scores, are implemented, aiming to maintain functional ability while preventing falls.
Basic fall precautions vary but commonly include distinctive clothing, signage, bed alarms, specialty beds, and patient education. Healthcare staff must be well-versed in facility-specific policies and procedures to create a safe environment for patients.
Despite implementation of precautions, falls do still occur. Post-fall care involves assessing and treating injuries, determining the cause, addressing environmental conditions, treating underlying medical issues, filing reports, and re-evaluating fall precautions. Legal nurse consultants can provide valuable insights by reviewing medical records and identifying missing pieces in the complex puzzle of fall prevention and treatment.
Fall prevention and post-fall care are intricate aspects of healthcare, requiring a comprehensive approach. As falls can have devastating consequences, having a legal nurse consultant on your team becomes crucial. Their expertise in examining cases, reviewing records, and identifying nuances ensures a thorough understanding of the complexities involved in falls, ultimately contributing to better outcomes for all parties involved.
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Montero-Odasso M, van der Velde N, et al. World guidelines for falls prevention and management for individuals: a global initiative. Journal of Age and Aging. 2022