Nursing homes warned to take precautions to prevent frequent falls

Last month on our Chicago medical malpractice law blog, we had mentioned that Illinois Governor Pat Quinn had signed an important law to make our state’s nursing homes safer for patients. Starting on Jan. 1, 2013, all nurses and care providers will need to receive training to learn how to safely lift patients in order to prevent patients from suffering serious or fatal fall injuries.

In addition to this state law, government officials are warning all nursing home facilities in the U.S. to take action to create safer facilities for patients and workers. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the second-leading cause of accidental death in the U.S. is an accident involving a slip, trip or fall.

OSHA has recently targeted nursing home facilities for failing to protect workers from suffering injuries in common fall accidents while on the job. To address this concern, OSHA said that for the next three years, it will be inspecting nursing homes in order to make sure facilities are taking safety measures to protect nurses and caregivers from falling, tripping or slipping at work.

Although OSHA monitors employers to make sure employers are creating and maintaining safe workplaces for employees, OSHA’s request that nursing home facilities do more to protect its workers also affects nursing home residents. When the workplace is too dangerous for nursing home staff, the lives of patients and visitors are endangered too.

Some suggest that nursing homes can significantly improve patient and worker safety simply by installing floor mat systems. Installing mats where liquids or dirt might accrue and in hallways and doorways that are frequently used can help to prevent patients and workers from falling on slippery or dirty surfaces. To prevent patients and workers from tripping over mats, the mats should be installed correctly so that the mats cannot bunch or curl at the corners.

Simple safety precautions can help to save the lives of patients and nursing home workers alike. Hopefully our Chicago nursing homes will take some of these simple precautions if they have not done so already in order to protect workers and patients.

Source: EHS Today, “OSHA warns nursing care facilities to watch their steps,” Sept. 4, 2012

  • Our firm represents patients and their families who have been harmed by nursing negligence matters that stem from events such as those described in this post. To learn more about our firm and practice, please visit our Chicago nursing home neglect page.

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