Femur Breaks

Femur Break in a Nursing Home Resident

A femur break is a serious break at any age but it can be deadly to seniors that are 65 years and older. The femur is the longest bone in the body. Femur breaks/fractures are most likely at the hip but in some cases can be at the lower extremities.

These types of fractures are most prevalent in young men from high-energy injuries and elderly women in low-energy injuries. The largest difference between these two groups is the survival rate.

A retrospective study that reviewed a 105 femur fractures that occurred below the hip in 99 patients that were age 65 and older found that:

  • Complication rate overall was 45%.
  • Mortality rate was 10% within 2 months of the injury.
  • Surgical success rates were increased by 39% in patients that were operated on within the first 48 hours.

According to another study that looked at 100 elderly patients that suffered a femur break over a 10-year period:

  • The overall mortality rate with a follow up of 9.8 years was 38% without co-morbidity.
  • Mortality rates at 30 days was 6%
  • Mortality rates at 6 months was 18%
  • Mortality rates at 1 year after surgery was 25%

Each study has found that quick action was one of the key factors in who survived the break and who did not. Speedy intervention can be a lifesaver. When these types of injuries happen in a nursing facility, staff members may be slow to report the injury for fear of reprisal from their employer.

Underreported

Many of these types of incidences are not reported in a timely manner by staff members at a nursing home because they occur out of neglect. The most common cause of a femur break in a nursing home is from a fall. Improper supervision while bathing, walking and even when being moved from the bed to a chair can easily cause a fall that results in a femur break.

Since speedy action and intervention is highly recommended by all medical professionals. When a staff member simply leaves their shift without reporting the incident, it can literally mean a death sentence for the resident.

In many cases, the staff member is afraid to report the injury because they do not want to suffer the consequences of potentially losing their job. It is not unusual for shift reports to be falsified.

It can be difficult to get to the “bottom” of the incident when the document trail is not consistent or reliable and the resident cannot tell you what happened because of preexisting conditions like dementia.

Other Factors

Femur breaks are more likely to occur in seniors that have other conditions like osteoporosis, poor nutrition and that take certain medications that contribute to bone thinning. Another risk factor for experiencing this type of break is institutional living. According to statistical data, a woman over the age of 65 that lives in a nursing home or assisted living facility has a 25% higher risk of suffering a femur break.

There is speculation that the risk factor is higher in nursing homes and other institutional living settings because of a “false” sense of security. Since these facilities are supposed to be a safe haven for the elderly that will help to protect them, relatives and friends do not feel the same compulsion to check the safety of the environment.

If you feel that a loved one is at risk because of neglect that caused a femur break you can take action:

  • Go here and look up your state to find the number to call to report suspected abuse and/or neglect.
  • Call local law enforcement.
  • Hire an attorney.

Speak to an attorney that has experience in nursing home abuse/neglect cases and they can help you get the wheels in motion to report the incident to the proper authorities.

Sources

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048257/

http://www.uchospitals.edu/online-library/content=P08957

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