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Should I be worried about facial trauma in nursing homes?

Deciding to place an elderly loved one in the care of a nursing home is never easy, but doing so is sometimes unavoidable. As parents and grandparents age, they often require specialized care that is simply not available in a home setting. Unfortunately, some facilities do not value your loved one's safety as much as you do, and trauma can occur.

Nursing home injuries are sadly not that uncommon in Pennsylvania, and you might already be familiar with issues like broken bones, bed sores or medication errors. However, these are not the only threats to your loved one's safety.

Do you know about facial injuries?

Suffering a facial injury is a serious event for virtually anyone, but it can be especially dangerous for the elderly. Injuries to the face tend to impede vital daily functions, including sight and speech. In some cases, an injury can even prevent a person from breathing or swallowing correctly.

In 2016, approximately 20,000 nursing home residents suffered facial injuries. Falls while getting out of or into bed were the most common cause for these injuries, although other accidents can certainly cause damage to a person's face.

Common forms of facial injuries

Researchers from Wayne State University School of Medicine analyzed data from 2011 to 2015. The experts found that nearly 110,000 nursing home residents who were over the age of 60 sought emergency room care for facial injuries. More than half were women, and around half were at least 84 years of age.

In this group, 44 percent of injuries were deep cuts. Around the same number of patients suffered soft-tissue injuries, such as torn patches of skin, even on the eyelids. Bone fractures accounted for 13 percent of the emergency room visits. Most of the fractures were of the nose or the eye socket.

Does an injury mean neglect?

Falls are the most common reason for facial injuries in the elderly. If a nursing home resident receives an injury because of a fall, it is possible that he or she was not being supervised or attended to properly.

When elderly patients suffer trauma, they often require longer hospital stays and face more serious complications than their younger counterparts. Addressing these considerable emotional, physical and financial damages can be difficult, but you do not have to do so on your own. When you seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim, you are not only helping your loved one -- you are also helping protect future Pennsylvania patients from similar injuries.

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