Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Slip And Fall Accidents In Nursing Homes: 4 Things To Know

Senior lady slipping and falling on a wet surface with a grimace of pain right alongside a yellow warning sign in German, with foreground copy space

When you take your family to a nursing home facility, you trust that your loved one will be cared for and is always safe. 

But contrary to popular belief, nursing homes have an alarming number of slips and falls accidents. You’d be surprised to learn that approximately half of the United States’ 1.6 million nursing home residents experience fall accidents annually. An even more alarming detail is that 1 in 3 of these people will experience fall accidents twice or more a year. 

Unfortunately, slip and fall accidents in nursing homes oftentimes result in serious injuries that can reduce the quality of life of your loved one. And the worst part, according to the National Institute of Health, only 57% of these incidents are reported. These numbers may not be an accurate representation, yet they show how common slip and fall accidents are. It’s also worth noting that hundreds of seniors in nursing facilities pass away annually from slip and fall-related accidents. 

To help you learn more about slip and fall accidents in nursing homes all over the country, keep on reading below:

1. Risk Factors for Slip and Fall Accidents in Nursing Homes

A slip and fall accident happens when a person trips, slips, or stumbles while on the premises of a nursing home, often due to poor maintenance or negligence from the staff. 

The causes of these accidents vary greatly and are a major safety concern in nursing homes. Plus, they can result in serious injuries or even death. Risk factors for these accidents include:

  • Age and physical impairment: Residents of nursing homes are usually older adults with physical limitations or impairments that can make them more susceptible to falls.
  • Medications: Many of the residents at the nursing home are under medication for ailments that can cause dizziness, confusion, or other side effects that increase the risk of falls.
  • Cognitive impairment: Seniors with dementia or other cognitive impairments may have difficulty recognizing, registering, and avoiding hazards that could lead to falls.
  • Environmental factors: Wet or slippery floors, poor lighting, uneven surfaces, and cluttered walkways can contribute to slip and fall accidents in nursing homes.
  • Inadequate staffing: If a nursing home doesn’t have enough personnel to monitor and assist residents, the risk of falls can increase.
  • Lack of appropriate footwear: There are instances where some residents may not have proper footwear. If the resident’s footwear’s traction isn’t up to snuff, the risk of falls can increase.
  • Poorly designed or maintained equipment: Wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility aids that are poorly designed or maintained can contribute to slip and fall accidents.

Sadly, this personal injury is too common and can lead to long-term pain, suffering, and distress for those affected. When this happens, you may want to hire an experienced lawyer who can ensure your loved one gets the justice they deserve. 

A team of experts like Chicago nursing home attorney abuse attorneys can ensure that these facilities are held responsible for your loved one’s injuries. This will ensure that the facility implements proper fall prevention measures as well to reduce the risk of patients slipping or falling.

2. Common Injuries Resulting from Slips and Falls

Slips and fall accidents can result in severe injuries for residents. Common damages that may result from this type of incident include:

  • Fractures: A fall can cause fractures in the hips, arms, legs, or other bones. And since a nursing home resident is already old and frail, these injuries can be severe. This is particularly true for older residents and those with underlying medical conditions.
  • Head injuries: If a person falls and hits their head on a hard surface like the floor or wall, it can cause head injuries. These head injuries can be in the form of a concussion or traumatic brain injuries, which can be severe and even fatal.
  • Soft tissue injuries: A slip and fall accident can result in soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, or bruises. Even then, it can be painful and limit mobility for the injured. 
  • Spinal cord injuries: One of the most severe injuries related to a slip and fall accident is spinal cord injuries. These types of damages can result in paralysis or other long-term disabilities.
  • Internal injuries: A fall may sometimes result in internal injuries. It can be in the form of organ damage or internal bleeding. And if and when this happens, it can be life-threatening.

Slip and fall-related incidents are often due to floor irregularities, such as loose rugs or slippery walkways caused by poor cleaning and upkeep. In some situations, a lack of guardrails or handrails may cause a slip or fall event due to difficulty balancing or navigating steps. Therefore, regular maintenance must be done within nursing homes to ensure resident safety. The nursing home staff should know basic first aid for seniors in case of such incidents too.

3. What To Do After Slip And Fall Accidents Occur

It doesn’t matter where and when an accident happened. But an injury at a nursing home can be life-changing for the person injured, their family, and the staff. This is especially true given the state of a nursing home resident. For most people, a common reaction is shock and disbelief. A nursing home should be a safe place for its residents.

Depending on the nature of the injury, medical attention is sought immediately to ensure the resident’s well-being and prevent the damage’s worsening. If the injury was caused by abuse or neglect, an investigation follows that often leads to disciplinary action or criminal charges against those involved. 

And nursing homes review policies and procedures to determine if improvements must be made to create a safer environment for residents. Despite these measures, injuries can still occur, yet every effort is taken to ensure they don’t happen again.

4. Precautions Nursing Homes Take To Avoid Slip And Fall Accidents

Nursing homes should ensure their residents’ premises are safe and secure to lower the risk of falls and slips from taking place. This requires regular checks of walkways and pathways to identify any potential hazards. 

Rugs should be securely attached to the floor. Any loose items must be removed, and a non-slip mat must be used in wet or slippery areas. There should be enough lighting throughout the building, with adequate lighting along paths and walkways. Dimly lit or unlit areas can contribute to causing falls. 

Nursing homes should also provide their residents with proper footwear, such as non-slip shoes or socks, to help prevent falls. In addition, staff should closely monitor and supervise residents who need assistance and are at high risk of these accidents. 

The nursing home should encourage its residents to exercise regularly too. Physical activities and exercises can help improve balance, and coordination can help prevent bad slips and falls. Also, any resident with mobility issues should be provided with walking aids such as a walker, cane, or other devices for support when using walkways and paths. 

By taking these precautions, nursing homes can reduce the chances of their residents having an accident due to slipping or tripping in the facility.


assisting her senior patient who's using a walker for support

Many things can cause slips and falls in nursing homes – from wet or slippery floors to poor lighting. And everyone must do everything possible to reduce the risk. Nurses and staff should always be mindful of any potential hazards and take steps immediately to remedy the situation if necessary. 

Residents should also be actively supported in maintaining those helpful habits that prevent slips and falls, such as exercising regularly, wearing appropriate footwear, and using assistive devices when needed. If a slip and fall accident happens, you must document it as soon as possible before reaching out to an experienced nursing home lawyer.