IDPH has cited and fined Glenview Terrace nursing home after resident sustained multiple fractures to her back and sacrum when a mechanical lift toppled over during a transfer.
Used properly, a mechanical lift is a useful tool for caring for residents in a nursing home setting. It allows residents to be transferred safely from one place to the other with minimal risk of injury. It also reduces the risk of injury to staff members by eliminating the lifting that has to be done by staff in manual transfers. However, the key to this is that the lift must be used properly, and proper use of a mechanical lift requires two staff members to assist in transferring a resident from one place to the other. Having on person do a two-person job when it comes to transfers is a formula for disaster, as we have written about many times on this blog (see here, here, here, here, and here for examples).
The resident at issue was wheelchair bound and had a medical history which included a stroke with residual weakness on one side. Her care plan called for transfers to be done with a mechanical lift with the assistance of two staff members. Two staff members are needed for transfers with a lift because one staff member is needed to operate the lift while the other staff member keeps the resident steady in the sling.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the resident was being transferred from wheelchair to bed by a single aide using the mechanical lift. After the resident was placed in the sling to the lift and was lifted up from the chair, the resident began to sway in the sling. This resulted in the center of gravity shifting and the lift itself toppling over. The resident landed on the floor on her back. She was brought to the hospital where she was diagnosed with multiple fractures to the vertebrae in her lower back as well as to her sacrum.
The obvious cause of this mechanical lift accident was the aide failing to follow the terms of the care plan and failing to follow generally recognized safe practices regarding the use of the lift. The deeper question is, why did he not get assistance before attempting the transfer. The answer to this likely relates to the understaffing of the nursing home – he was too rushed to get the extra help needed to accomplish a safe transfer of this resident. Alternatively, it could simply be poor training of the aide.
Either option – understaffing or poor training of the staff – implicates the choices made regarding the management of this nursing home. Sadly, failing to invest in the staff so as to help assure that residents receive the care they need and deserve is 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.
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