The Illinois Department of Health has cited Bella Terra Wheeling after a resident fell from her wheelchair in the dining room and suffered face lacerations and a fractured femur.
Falls are a major concern in the long-term care industry because of the serious negative effects they have on mortality and the long-term quality of life for nursing home residents. Because of this, they are a regular focus in the care planning process.
Nursing homes use a variety of tools to assess a resident’s fall risk. Some of the major factors are a recent history of falls, as it is well-recognized in the long-term care industry that falls tend to beget additional falls; balance, gait, or musculoskeletal dysfunction; and some form of cognitive impairment, dementia, constant or intermittent confusion, or general poor judgment or awareness for one’s own safety or limitations.
The cognitive impairment factor is crucial because this means that a resident cannot be counted on to follow instructions or to make good judgments or decisions for his or her own safety.
Federal regulations pertaining to falls in nursing homes provide that residents must receive supervision and assistance necessary to prevent accidents. Falls are considered accidents under the regulations.
Close supervision of the resident is a mainstay of any fall prevention strategy in a nursing home. One of the common ways of providing supervision to residents is to gather them in areas where several residents who require supervision can all be watched at the same time by a limited number of staff people. Common examples of this would be to gather residents in an activity room, near the nurse’s station, or in the dining room.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the resident in question was in the dining room, in her wheelchair, waiting for breakfast to be served. The nurse watching over the residents that morning claims that she was helping another resident when she heard the resident “fall hard,” landing on her right side and bleeding onto the floor.
The resident was assessed, x-rays were ordered and the resident was sent to the hospital for further evaluation. At the hospital it was determined that the resident had suffered an acute femur fracture.
Falls can be devastating events for seniors, and often they lead to additional falls. While this fall is certainly a serious and sad occurrence, equally as disturbing in this case are some of the findings that the surveyor found when she went to conduct her investigation at the facility.
– When the surveyor visited the same dining room where the fall occurred, there was a different nurse watching a group of residents. That nurse commented that “you can see there are a lot of residents here so we can’t get to all of them if they fall.” When the surveyor counted the number of residents assembled in the dining hall, she counted 41, with just one nurse monitoring the room.
– When the surveyor visited the nurse that was watching the resident on the day of the incident, the nurse stated that she was “with agency and I had just got there that day and they (facility) assigned me to be in charge of watching the dining room.”
When the surveyor asked if she had returned to the facility after the day of the accident, she replied that she had not and that she had no idea that the resident was a fall risk. “No I haven’t been back since that last time and I only was there once. I didn’t know anything about her fall risk. Is she one because they didn’t tell me anything? All they do like every place is give you the residents and they don’t tell you anything.”
When asked if the agency had received any dementia or fall prevention training, the nurse replied “I’m with agency, they don’t do training.”
When a nursing home is unable to provide residents with the necessary supervision, that is a sign that this is likely an understaffed nursing home. Even worse, when a nursing home does not train their nurses in fall prevention, it would seem to border on negligence. Unfortunately, insufficient training of nurses and short-staffing a nursing home is a basic part of the nursing home business model.
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.