Nursing Homes Must Take Special Care to Prevent Bone Fractures in Patients with Osteoporosis

Grandparents everywhere are fond of commenting on how quickly their grandchildren are growing, and at times, when your grandmother marveled at how tall you were getting, she might have also said that she was shrinking. It may not have been merely a figure of speech, although grandparents are also known for their curious turns of phrase. It is fairly common for elderly people, especially elderly women, to lose height and have a stooped posture because of small fractures in their vertebrae. The cause of these fractures is osteoporosis, a disease characterized by porous, fragile bones. Because the condition is prevalent in the elderly, there are many nursing home residents with osteoporosis. If their care is not managed properly, it could be a case of nursing home neglect; the most obvious sign of improper management of osteoporosis would be broken bones.

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Facts About Osteoporosis

Healthy bones are resistant to fracture; it takes major trauma to break a healthy bone, and with proper treatment, the bone heals well. In people with osteoporosis, however, the bones break much more easily. A person with osteoporosis may suffer a broken wrist, for example, in a fall that would leave a healthy person with just some bruises.  Sometimes the bones are so fragile that they break on their own, without any trauma. The most common sites of osteoporosis-related bone fractures are the hip, the vertebrae, and the wrist.

Most osteoporosis diagnoses are made in women over the age of 50; the decrease in estrogen at menopause makes them more vulnerable to loss of bone density. Men can also be affected by osteoporosis, although most male osteoporosis patients are diagnosed after age 70. Although more women than men suffer broken bones because of osteoporosis, men are more likely than women to die within a year of an osteoporosis-related fracture.

What Nursing Homes can do

Although osteoporosis-related fractures can happen on their own without any particular injury to cause them, falls are the most common cause of broken bones in people with osteoporosis.  Nursing home staff should do everything possible to prevent residents from falling, especially if they know that the residents have an elevated risk of bone fractures. That could mean giving patients access to walkers or having a staff member attend to them in hallways and especially on stairs. In many cases, osteoporosis is not diagnosed until a patient suffers a fracture as a result of it. It is, however, possible to diagnose osteoporosis and to assess a patient’s risk of suffering an osteoporosis-related fracture, by using a special type of X-ray that measures bone density.  Testing bone density could be a way of keeping at-risk patients safe.

Contact Case Barnett About Nursing Home Neglect

Many osteoporosis-related fractures are preventable. If your relative has suffered an osteoporosis-related fracture while in a nursing home, you may have grounds for a nursing home abuse lawsuit. Contact Case Barnett in Costa Mesa, California to discuss your case.

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