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New Study about Falls among New Nursing Home Patients

A new study published in a recent issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society finds that one in five new nursing home patients suffer a fall within one month of admission. But higher levels of staffing with certified nursing assistants reduces that risk.

An article on USNews.com reports that the study included Medicare/Medicaid data from more than 230,000 first-time nursing home residents admitted to nearly 1,000 facilities in the U.S. in 2006. Of those patients, 21 percent had at least 1 fall during their first 30 days at the home.

When the researchers looked for reasons that might contribute to the number of falls, they found that fewer falls happened when there were more certified nursing assistants (CNAs) on staff. This may be due to the fact that CNAs provide hands-on care during activities where falls take place, such as dressing, using the bathroom, and moving around.

It is believed that this is the first study focusing solely on newly admitted nursing home patients. The fact that these patients are new to the facility and the staff may also increase their fall risk. Many are there for rehabilitation with the eventual goal of going home. Yet a fall can delay or even prevent a patient from returning home, which is why identifying and managing fall risks is so crucial.