IDPH has cited and fined Arcadia Care Bloomington nursing home after a resident there suffered a broken hip and a fracture to her mid back after she suffered a fall due to a defective wheelchair brake.
Wheelchairs are one of the most commonly used pieces of equipment in a nursing home. However, for them to be used safely, they must be properly maintained and all of the accessories used as well. The brakes on a wheelchair are critical to the safe use of the chair. When residents attempt to get out of the wheelchair, the brakes must hold firmly or the wheelchair will roll out from under them while they are in the process of rising. This will almost certainly result in a fall. In most nursing homes, the maintenance department are the ones called upon the fix and maintain the residents’ wheelchairs.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the physical therapist entered the room only to find that the resident was half-in, half-out of the wheelchair. She summoned an aide who helped get the resident from the floor, but the resident was in too much pain to participate in therapy. The aide noted that the left side brake was loose so that the chair would still move even with the brake on. She was sent to the emergency room where she was diagnosed with a fractured hip and a fracture of the T-12 vertebra (lower middle back) which required the use of a back brace.
The investigation of this incident revealed that there were at least three staff members who were aware that the brake was loose. Two were aides – including the one who helped the therapist. The other was the maintenance man, who found that the brake was “wiggly” when he installed an anti-rollback device but thought it was sufficient to hold and elected to not repair the brake at that time.
Federal regulations require that nursing homes be kept as free of accident hazards as possible. The defective brake on the wheelchair is something that should have been readily recognized as a hazard by staff given that they had doubtless been trained to make sure that the wheelchair was locked in place with the brakes before attempting to transfer a resident. The failure to correct a known hazard was the direct cause of this fall and the resident’s injuries.
One of our core beliefs is that nursing homes are built to fail due to the business model they follow and that unnecessary accidental injuries and wrongful deaths of nursing home residents are the inevitable result. Order our FREE report, Built to Fail, to learn more about why. Our experienced Chicago nursing home lawyers are ready to help you understand what happened, why, and what your rights are. Contact us to get the help you need.
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