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Deadly Falls series

Pam Louwagie and Glenn Howatt of the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune have finished their three-part investigation into falling deaths in Minnesota nursing homes. According to the newspaper's analysis, more than 1,000 Minnesota deaths were related to falls in nursing homes from 2002 through 2008, but few were fully investigated. In fact, less than 10 percent of fall-related deaths in nursing homes are fully investigated by the Minnesota Department of Health; usually nursing homes themselves are left to privately probe the cause of fatal falls on their premises. Of the 1,000 Minnesota deaths attributed to falls in nursing homes from 2002 through 2008, the state Office of Health Facility Complaints fully investigated only about 75. The reporters identified understaffing as a possible cause for the high number of falling deaths — in anonymous interviews with the Star Tribune, 16 nurses aides complained of insufficient staffing.

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