Symptoms of Nursing Home Falls

March 18, 2024 / RP Legal

As many as 42.5% of nursing home falls go unreported. (Sanghavi, Assessment of nursing home reporting). Family members and caregivers should understand symptoms of nursing home falls.

Knowing symptoms to look for after a fall can help facilitate needed medical care and promote safety in the facility.

The Rikard & Protopapas nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys in Columbia, SC, share symptoms of falls in the elderly.

What Are the Symptoms of Nursing Home Falls?

Fear of mobility, reluctance to move

A resident may show sudden fear of mobility. They may hesitate to move freely like they did before. They may refuse to walk without a walker or cane. These sudden changes may be a sign that something happened. The person may be experiencing fear or anxiety relating to a recent fall.

Inability to move

Injuries that result from a fall may prevent a person from moving, even if they wish to be mobile. If a person is no longer able to walk or stand for periods of time, it may be a sign that a fall has occurred.


A fall may cause visible bruising. If a person has bruises on their hands, arms, head, legs, knees or seat, and there is no other explanation, there may have been a fall.

Favoring one side of the body

It’s common for someone with an injury to compensate by favoring one side of the body. The person may walk with a limp or avoid putting pressure on one arm, for example. Trying to take weight off or avoid movement in an area of the body may be a sign of an adverse event.

Broken assistive device

A fall may occur because a walker, cane or crutch is broken. In addition, the fall itself may break an assistive device. A broken assistive device, that is not the result of normal wear and tear, may be a sign that something has occurred.

Blood on clothing or bedding

A fall can cause contusions and bleeding. Visible blood on a person’s clothing or bedding, without a known medical cause, may be an indication of harm.

No longer writing

If a fall impacts a person’s ability to write, they may try to avoid writing or use the other hand.

Confusion, cognitive impairment

Concussions and traumatic brain injury can result from a fall. A victim may experience confusion, cognitive impairment, agitation, and other mental changes.

Changes in mood, anxiety, depression

Falling can be mentally damaging as well as physically. Someone who has fallen may be anxious about it happening again. They may be depressed because of perceived limitations. Mental health changes may be in reaction to serious events that have occurred. It may be appropriate to investigate whether a fall has occurred.

Changes in caregiver behavior

A caregiver who has not reported a fall may change their behavior, either in general or towards a particular resident. They may become more careful or try to avoid working with a certain person.

Changes in behavior towards a caregiver

A resident may change their behavior towards a caregiver after a fall. They may want to avoid a certain person, or they may not trust the care they receive.

Missing, altered records

Sometimes, workers change or hide records to cover up a fall. If there are records missing, it may be because someone is trying to hide information relating to a fall.

Why Nursing Home Falls Are Underreported

Reasons that nursing home falls may go unreported include:

  • Trying to keep good statistics, so it looks like the nursing home has a better health and safety record
  • Wanting to avoid an investigation that could lead to corrective action
  • No witnesses, not knowing that a fall even happened
  • Not knowing how the fall occurred
  • Embarrassment of the victim
  • Hoping to avoid invasive medical attention
  • Not knowing how to report a fall
  • Employee wanting to avoid potential employment consequences
  • Fear of a more restrictive environment
  • Fear of retaliation
  • Not understanding why it’s important to report

Can You Get Compensated for an Unreported Nursing Home Fall?

A nursing home fall may be the result of negligence. When it comes to a fall, and failing to report it, there may be many wrongful actions on the part of the nursing home, including:

  • Failing to appropriately monitor the patient to prevent the fall
  • Failing to identify signs that a fall has occurred
  • Medical care that is inadequate to treat injuries
  • Dangerous conditions
  • Lack of reporting of the incident
  • Responding inappropriately to the victim following the fall, including mentally and emotionally, and addressing fall risk
  • Not making changes, resulting in additional falls and harm

A nursing home has a duty of care to its residents. That means taking reasonable measures to prevent a fall and responding appropriately when one occurs. Failing to report a fall may be an act of negligence.

If someone in a nursing home is harmed in an unreported fall, they may have the right to financial compensation.

How our lawyers can help

When a fall is unreported, it can be challenging to learn what happened. Our lawyers can investigate the facts and events, building the evidence to document what happened. We can look at why the fall went unreported and what harm resulted. We can work to hold wrongdoers accountable for their actions and provide answers.

A victim or their family may have the right to monetary compensation. Our nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers undertake the steps to claim compensation when a person has been hurt in an unreported fall.

Lawyers for Unreported Falls in a Nursing Home

If you or a loved one is a victim of a fall in a nursing home, whether or not that fall is unreported, we invite you to contact the lawyers at Rikard & Protopapas. Hospital, home, and nursing home visits are available. Virtual consultations are available. We can talk about your situation and answer any questions you have.

You may deserve financial compensation, and our lawyers can represent you in the claims process.

To learn more and talk to a lawyer today, call 803-978-6111 or message us now.

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