A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society finds that one in five newly admitted nursing home patients has a fall within one month. I realize statistics like this are dry and mind numbing, but consider this: 1 in 5 in the first month. Incredible.
This study probably understates the case, too. The researchers in this study looked at Medicare/Medicaid data. How many falls go unreported?
The researchers analyzed the potential factors that contribute to falls. They found something that makes too much sense: fewer falls occurred in nursing facilities with higher ratios of certified nursing assistants to residents. These are the people providing the real care for nursing home patients and their absence causes risk of injury.
We all know about the fall risk in nursing homes, but this is the first study to focus on fall rates among newly admitted residents. The take home message for patients and their families is this: make sure there is a clear plan for protection from falls for the patient and that any unique concerns of the patient are addressed from the beginning. If you wait until a problem arises, the horse is already out of the barn door.