Part 1: Deadly falls

  • Article by: GLENN HOWATT and PAM LOUWAGIE , Star Tribune staff writers
  • Updated: March 22, 2011 - 2:46 PM

More than 100 Minnesotans die each year after suffering falls in nursing homes. Few deaths are fully investigated by the state, and serious penalties for violations are rare.

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cricky101Nov. 18, 09 8:26 AM

What!?! Old people fall down?? The Horror! I agree that state regulators should be blamed because the elderly are brittle and fall down.

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GeminiSunNov. 18, 09 9:09 AM

My dad recently fell at home broke his hip, and is in transitional care. He has been recovering really well and should be going back home in a few weeks. I have seen lots of errors communications Issues between the Nurses and the Assistants, not receiving doctor's orders for a week. Wrong diets being served, and diatetes being controlled by insulin after a person is served a high carb, high sugar meal. People that are vulnerable need a voice. The things that have come up, I have been able to get corrected immediately, by daily visits and keeping family there with him as much as possible. He did fall of the toliet when left unattended.

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JJrose403Nov. 18, 09 9:16 AM

It seems to me that people want it both ways. When I started in the medical field, it was more common than not to restrain people in bed and in wheelchairs. We also used full side bedrails on everyone. Then after a few unfortunate and horrifying deaths, restraints were all but banned and full siderails were replaced by none at all. There is a quality of life issue here. You can't expect to have it both ways. If the answer is to have one on one care for everyone that might be at risk, great! But who is going to pay for it?

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mammapattyjoNov. 18, 09 9:58 AM

I am not floor expert, but it seems that softer floor coverings in nursing homes could be an option. I think of the materials used on indoor tracks, for example. Not perfect, but certainly more of a cushion than a cold hard floor. Just a thought...

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frankie3919Nov. 18, 0910:08 AM

Stories like this really bother me! As a Nursing Home LPN (nurse), I am in the middle of the daily care for elderly people in my nursing home. As sad as it is that PEOPLE caring for the elderly make mistakes and aren't perfect, I would for once like to see a front page story about how hard we work. Where's the story about how we work many extra hours to get the job done? Where's the story about how we take our work home with us and lay awake at night wondering how someone is doing? Where's the story about how we cry with the family when someone dies? Where's the story about how we try to go the extra mile for every person every day but can't because we don't have the staff. Why don't we have the staff? One of the the reasons is because the State seems to always be either cutting funding or not increasing it when needed. We then can't afford to hire more staff, and in fact, our wages are currently frozen and have been for the 3 years I've been at this nursing home. I give everything I have to my job every day that I'm there, but stories like this make me feel like nothing I do will ever be good enough. Thanks Star Tribune for letting all the nursing staff in Minnesota know what you think of us!

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allhailfsmNov. 18, 0910:22 AM

I don't know what sort of choice this person might have made, but I for one would like to be able to make an advance directive for assisted suicide if my own life were to devolve into one of fear, pain and dementia.

How sad that this old soldier would not have been given that choice when he was still able to think rationally.

My own uncle, a WWII vet, when faced with a similar diagnoses decided to end his own life long before he would have lost the ability to do so.

He made a tape just before he shot himself in which he explained that he did not want to wait so long that he would lose the opportunity to make his choice.

We lost him several years before his condition would have deteriorated to the point where he would want to end his life, but be unable to do so.

During his own life, this man took care of his father and his wifes mother for years in his own home before they died. Fortunately, neither of them had dementia.

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bruwhoseNov. 18, 0910:37 AM

I don't agree on your comments that nursing home falls are hardly ever investigated. The liability insurance carrier would absolutely conduct an investigation as to the liability of the fall, on behalf of its insured, the nursing home. This would be performed by professional investigators. So what is the problem?

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sweetpeapupNov. 18, 0910:51 AM

this will soon be a non issue its unfortunate but the elderly will be neglected in the new age medical program coming soon. I think that frankie3919 has the right attitude and heart is the right place what i find troubling is the vast number of personell caring for the elderly are immagrint who have difficultly communicating with their charges. eldery have a hard time hearing and it is even more difficult for them when the person assisting them does not speak good english. no offense to those workers God bless them for doing the job.

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pimstpaulNov. 18, 0910:59 AM

frankie3919--with no one wanting to pay increased taxes, of course funding is going to be cut for Medical Assistance. People attending their no tax increase "tea parties" don't get that people living and working in nursing homes are the ones that take the brunt when there is not enough tax revenue. Are you a no taxes kind of person? If so, you are shooting yourself in the foot. You should ask your nursing director and administrator how much of a raise they got--I'm guessing they got one. The state doesn't mandate how much they get paid or whether you get a raise or not--that is a busines decision. As for your questions about why your good work is not highlighted? It's not news. If you want to highlight your good work, write a book. Minnesotans dying every other day related to falls? That is news.

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sweetpeapupNov. 18, 0911:40 AM

maybe the state could divert some of that rather large funding that goes to education seeing as they waste it on neon signs infront of every school

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