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Nursing Home Falls Could Be Reduced By Fewer Antipsychotics, Better Staffing: Study

Researchers from Brown University indicate that there is a lot of variation in the reasons for nursing home falls and hip fractures, but findings of a new study suggest that many such incidents could be avoided by reducing the use of psychotropic drugs commonly given to nursing home residents, and making sure facilities are adequately staffed. 

The study was posted in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on January 16, examining the variations in nursing home hip fracture incidents across the country to determine how they could be affected at the facility and state level.

The research looked at data on hip fractures among more than 200,000 long-term nursing home residents at facilities of 100 beds or more across the U.S. from May 1, 2007, through April 30, 2008. The study involved nearly 1,500 facilities and residents were followed up for up to two years.

According to the findings, there are about 3.13 hip fractures per 100 person years every year across the country. The study found that facilities that had higher percentages of residents taking psychoactive medications, such as antipsychotics, and nursing homes that provided fewer hours of nursing and direct care to residents had the highest rates of hip fracture incidents.

Such fractures are usually caused by nursing home falls. But the study found that the characteristics of states and facilities could only account for 6.7% of those fractures, and resident characteristics only accounted for 7.6%, meaning the reasons for many falls and fractures are unknown.

“Much of the variation in hip fracture incidence remained unexplained, although these findings indicate that potentially modifiable state and facility characteristics such as psychoactive drug prescribing and minimum staffing requirements could be addressed to help reduce the rate of hip fracture in U.S. (nursing homes),” the researchers concluded.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one in four people over the age of 65 fall each year. In fact, 29 million senior citizens fell in 2014 alone. About 20% of those falls leads to a serious injury, like a broken bone or head injury.

Nearly every 20 minutes a person over the age of 65 dies from a fall. Among senior citizens, falls are the most frequent cause of injury, and once a senior falls, they are more likely to fall again.

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