IDPH has cited and fined the Gibson Community Hospital Annex nursing home after a resident of that nursing home suffered a brain bleed in a fall. The Annex is a separate wing of the hospital which is licensed as a nursing home.
The resident at issue suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and dementia. She also suffered from atrial fibrillation (an episodic irregular contraction of the heart which can result in stroke-causing blood clots) for which she was receving Eliquis, a blood thinning medication, to prevent the formation of blood clots. Unfortunately blood thinning medications like Coumadin, Xarelto, or Eliquis can also result in internal bleeding after a nursing home fall.
The resident was assessed as being a moderate risk for falls and her fall prevention care plan required the assist of one staff to stabilize her balance. The facility had a policy in place requring the use of a gait belt for all residents who required assistance with walking or transfers and that the staff member have a hand on the gait belt while it was in use.
On the day of the accident, the resident was being assisted by a nurse who was a “floater” who normally worked in the hospital obstetrics unit. She was unfamiliar with the resident, with her care plan, and with the facility policy requiring the use of a gait belt. The nurse assisted the resident to the bathroom and was bringing her back to her recliner when the resident fell over backwards, hitting her head on the door frame. The nurse did not have the gait belt on and was simply walking alongside the resident.
After the fall, a post-fall monitoring process was initiated with frequent neuro checks. After the resident began to complain of feeling tired and off, her doctor was notified of the change in condition and ordered her sent to the emergency room. A scan revealed a brain bleed and she was transferred to another hospital for more definitve treatment.
This was a very preventable kind of nursing home fall. The resident had been properly assessed as a fall risk and there was a reasonable care plan with good facility policies in place to address this fall risk. They just weren’t being carried out – under the circumstances, the nurse helping this resident back from the bathroom should have had a gait belt on her and been holding onto the gait belt. Had that been done, the nurse would have been able to prevent the resident from hitting her head against the door frame.
While much of the focus will be on the nurse who was in the room when the fall occurred, there is also a significant amount of fault to be assessed against the facility itself. Federal regulations require the nursing home to have sufficient numbers of nurses on hand on a 24/7 basis to meet the care needs of the residents, with the appropriate skills and competencies. When the nursing home accepted a nurse on board to provide care to the its residents, it had an obligation to make sure that the nurse knew what had to be done to deliver appropriate care to the residents. Failing to do that was setting everyone up for disaster.
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 residents are the inevitable results. 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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