Serious Fractures

Washington DC Bone Fracture Attorneys

Many elder individuals in long-term care suffer from avoidable fracture injuries. Many of these fractures are sustained in falls. Other fractures are a result of abuse or rough handling by the staff.

Approximately 250,000 persons 65 years of age or older will fracture a hip in the coming year. Excess mortality attributable to hip fractures in white women age 70 years and older, J. Magaziner, Ph.D., American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 87 pp. 1630-1636 (Oct. 1997). The greatest increase in mortality risk for hip fracture occurs within the first six months post-fracture.

A nursing home or assisted living facility is charged with the responsibility of providing a safe environment. It is also the responsibility of the nursing home to assess factors that indicate a patients risk of falling. Then, they are required to put a fall prevention plan into place to protect residents from injury. A serious fracture can significantly increase the risk of mortality for our elderly population. One study revealed that hip fracture in the elderly increase mortality by as much as 70%.

If your loved one is subject to an unexplained fracture, it is important that you take action to determine how the fracture occurred. Healthcare facilities do not always document all the facts surrounding a particular incident, especially one that may give rise to liability. You should ask the supervising nurse how the fracture injury occurred. You should ask to see the relevant records and any incident report relating to the fracture. Don’t always be satisfied with the facility’s oral explanation as it may not be consistent with their written records. Also, in some states the incident report may not be discoverable or may be kept separate from the resident’s chart.

Fracture injuries can range in severity from hairline fractures (where the bone is only fractured partially) to compound or open fractures (where the bone is broken completely, and may protrude through the skin). Some elderly may be at high risk for fractures because of weakened bones or preexisting conditions like osteoporosis. The nursing home may rely on these conditions to claim that a fracture was simply a spontaneous fracture without a precipitating traumatic event. This is a rather unusual event and such an explanation should be looked upon with skepticism until it is proven with medical documentation. An x-ray or bone density scan may provide evidence to support such a claim but generally would have to be evaluated by a medical doctor, usually a radiologist.

If you have further questions about fracture injuries feel free to contact us for a free consultation or additional information.