A study published online on March 16, 2017 in the journal JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery analyzed the incidence of facial injuries (facial trauma) in nursing home residents in the United States. The study found that there were 109,795 nursing home residents who required emergency room care for facial trauma during the five-year period from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2015.
There were approximately 1.4 million nursing home residents in the United States in 2014. The societal costs for fall-related injuries among the elderly population in the United States is estimated to be in excess of $60 billion annually.
The study found that female nursing home residents suffered a greater proportion of facial injuries with increasing age (there were 71,466 female nursing home residents (65.1%) who required emergency room care for facial trauma). The median age for nursing home residents who required emergency room care for facial injuries during the study period was 84.1.
The study found that the most common facial injuries requiring emergency room care among U.S. nursing home residents were lacerations (44.3% – 48,679); other soft-tissue injuries such as hematomas, contusions, and avulsions (41.8% – 45,911); and, fractures (12.7% – 13,814). The most common locations of facial fractures were nasal (67.5% – 9,331) and orbital (8.3% – 1,144).
The study found that the major causes of facial injuries among nursing home residents who required emergency room care were structural housing or fixed items within the nursing homes (57.0% – 62,604) and transfers of nursing home residents to and from bed (22.6% – 24,870). Bathroom-related falls accounted for 3.6% (4,012) of the facial fractures suffered by nursing home residents who required emergency room care.
A retrospective study from 2012 conducted by physician reviewers from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 59% of adverse events that occurred in U.S. skilled nursing facilities were clearly or likely preventable.
The study’s authors concluded: “Although falls have been recognized as a significant clinical issue among the elderly nursing home population, little attention has been paid to facial trauma in this setting. Our analysis revealed more than 100,000 facial injuries that required emergency care during a 5-year period; this figure suggests that this underappreciated occurrence contributes substantially to costs, particularly in this health care environment characterized by increasing recognition of preventable never events. Although housing structural elements facilitated the greatest number of falls, transfer to and from bed remained a significant mechanism of injury, suggesting an important area of targeted intervention.”
Falls And The Elderly
The CDC warns that each year, millions of people aged 65 and older fall (more than one out of four older people fall each year, but less than half tell their doctor) and that falling once doubles the chances of falling again. One out of five falls causes a serious injury such as broken bones or a head injury. Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
Each year, 2.8 million older people are treated in emergency departments for fall injuries. Each year at least 300,000 older people are hospitalized for hip fractures and more than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways. Adjusted for inflation, the direct medical costs for fall injuries are $31 billion annually, with hospital costs accounting for two-thirds of the total.
If you or a loved one suffered injuries (or worse) while a resident of a nursing home in the United States due to nursing home neglect, nursing home negligence, nursing home abuse, or resident on resident abuse, you should promptly find a local nursing home claim attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your nursing home claim for you and file a nursing home claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
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