Falls are top reason for lawsuits against skilled nursing facilities, report states

Share this content:

Resident falls continue to present the greatest risk of lawsuits to skilled nursing facilities and other long-term care providers, according to a recently released report from insurance company CNA.

Between 2012 and 2013, falls accounted for 41.5% of closed professional liability claims against CNA-insured nonprofit skilled nursing facilities, the report states. This was down from nearly 44% in the 2007 to 2011 period. However, falls far eclipsed other reasons for claims in both time periods. In the more recent data, pressure ulcers came in at No. 2, with 17.5% of closed claims.

The proportion of fall-related claims increased in for-profit SNFs, rising from 37% to 38.7%. Pressure ulcers also came in at No. 2 among for-profit facility claims.

Falls also were the top reason for claims at assisted living and continuing care retirement communities between 2007 and 2013.

“While zero falls may not be an achievable goal, decreasing resident falls and mitigating the severity of fall-related injuries remain essential to quality improvement and risk management,” the report states.

Improving resident monitoring could be one area of focus: The report shows that “failure to monitor” was associated with nearly 46% of fall-related allegations going back to 2007. This was followed by improper care, unsafe environment and “all other” causes.

Falls from a bed were associated with most fall claims (32.4%), followed by falls in a bathroom (18%). 

The report was unveiled at the LeadingAge annual conference in Nashville last week.