Take Our Survey, Get Answers

Broken Neck

broken neckIn 2010, the federal government enacted a groundbreaking piece of national elder law legislation in the Elder Justice Act. Specifically, the act sought to professionalize and nationalize mechanism and entities responsible for ensuring the safety and adequacy of America’s elder care facilities, of which many rely on federal funding for their operations.

Elder Justice Act and Forensic Investigations of Elder Abuse Cases

Most relevant to nursing home abuse cases involving broken necks, or fractures to the cervical vertebrae in elderly residents, is the Elder Justice Act’s formation of a formal national center for forensic analysis of nursing home abuse and other injuries, with the tacit statement that the expertise on the scientific aspects of elder abuse in litigation might overcome a common hurdle to justice in the form of plausible deniability of nursing home staff for causing injuries in a population already disproportionately prone to suffer injuries.

State-Level Redefinitions of Elderly Individuals as Protected Populations on Medical and Other Grounds

In fact, legislation in most state jurisdictions has gone further and defined elderly persons as an at-risk or vulnerable population, thus requiring society as a whole to provide an enhanced duty of care to these individuals. Setting any semblance of the inherent morality of the question aside, there is a medically-justifiable reason driving these political agendas that protect the elderly. Frailty, or the gradual diminishment of all human beings’ musculoskeletal systems as part of the aging process, is marked and problematic in the elderly, who are highly susceptible, more so by each year as aging, to grievous injuries from relatively minor blows, accidents, falls, or movements.

  • Moreover, other factors common in nursing home patients significantly increase the lethality of an incident involving a broken neck in an elderly patient including:
  • Co-morbid conditions of any kind, especially those that would potentially impede the recovery process should the patient survive
  • Pre-existing conditions of osteoporosis, ankylosis, muscle atrophy, or any other degenerative musculoskeletal condition\
  • Males consistently exhibit a higher mortality rate than women in elder broken neck cases seen in US hospitals
  • Should a cervical fracture show increased or enhanced neurological damages, the mortality rates increase dramatically within elderly patients as well.
  • Those elderly individuals surviving broken necks face a prolonged period of recovery, oftentimes with incredibly poor quality of life and extensive medical costs for the remainder of their lives

Of all broken neck injuries sustained by the elderly, the most common causes notable to nursing homes includes the national number one cause found in short distance falls from heights less than the patient’s height, which in elder abuse situations includes beds, chairs, wheel chairs, dining room seating, and other incidents in which a physically handicapped elderly person is placed in the position or risk of falling. Moreover, a notable cause in addition per the medical community is the involvement of external trauma related to elder abuse.

Cervical Fractures in the Elderly: Common Causes Related to Abuse

Ultimately, when elderly persons present with such diminished bone density, overall fragility, and a lack of a self-defense means, any incident of abuse involving blows to the head or face would potentially be fatal at any given point. Likewise, unsafe or sub-standard of care treatment involving a rough or negligent transfer of patients from beds to wheelchairs or restroom facilities has can lead to falls causing cervical fractures in nursing homes as well. Finally, residents may be subjected to forms of an iatrogenic cervical fracture, or sustain a broken neck while undergoing negligent physical therapy or exercise healthcare in the nursing home facility. Finally, ambulatory nursing home patients face high risks of probably occurrence and degree of injury in slip and fall incidents in nursing homes.

Statistical Evidence on the Lethality of Cervical Fractures in the Elderly and Its Impacts on Nursing Home Abuse Broken Neck Incidents

However, the reality for elders sustaining any form of cervical fracture is fairly grim: elderly persons over the age of sixty-five (65) having sustained a cervical fracture, or broken neck, have a patient mortality rate of nearly ~22% in the first year. Moreover, these mortality rates increase exponentially as patients age, with those nursing home age residents over the age of eighty-five (85) exhibiting nearly forty percent (~39%) of patients dying within the first year. In short, neck injuries to the elderly are highly lethal, and as such, cases involving death from cervical fractures sustained while under nursing home care may entail filing a wrongful death suit against the negligent parties.

In the case of any elderly nursing home patient sustaining a broken neck, family members should consider consulting immediately with an elder abuse attorney to determine the relative fault or cause of a given incident leading to the cervical fractures in the nursing homes residence.

References:

http://www.eldercare.gov/Eldercare.NET/Public/Index.aspx

http://www.centeronelderabuse.org/about.asp

http://www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/ANAMarketplace/ANAPeriodicals/OJIN/TableofContents/Vol-17-2012/No3-Sept-2012/Articles-Previous-Topics/Elder-Mistreatment-and-Elder-Justice-Act.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK98800/

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2827825/

http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/55/4/895.full.pdf

THIS WEBSITE IS A PAID LEGAL ADVERTISMENT. ATTORNEY JEFF MEYER IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONTENT OF THIS ADVERTISMENT.JEFF MEYER IS LICENSED IN TEXAS AND CALIFORNIA. CONSULT A DOCTOR ON ALL MEDICAL DECISIONS.WRITTEN INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE ON REQUEST. ONCE YOU BECOME A CLIENT OF THE FIRM, INFORMATION REGARDING YOUR CLAIM MAY BE TRANSMITTED IN COMPLIANCE WITH HIPAA AND HOUSE BILL 300. THE MEYER LAW FIRM WILL MAINTAIN JOINT REPRESENTATION AND JOINT RESPONSIBILITY FOR CLIENTS AND CASES,BUT CASES AND CLIENTS WILL LIKELY BE REFERRED TO OTHER LAW FIRMS FOR PRINCIPAL HANDLING. LEGAL REPRESENTATION IS NOT OFFERED OR AVAILABLE IN TENNESSEE. BY USING THIS WEBSITE, YOU AGREE TO OUR PRIVACY POLICY AND TERMS OF USE. MAIN OFFICE; HOUSTON, TEXAS.