IDPH has cited and fined Hitz Memorial Home nursing home in Alhambra after a resident there fell from a lift during transfer, suffering a large hematoma which became an abscess.
Used properly, a mechanical lift is a great tool for use in a nursing home. Used properly, it allows a resident to be transferred from bed to a chair, chair to wheelchair, to the toilet, etc., safely – for both the resident and the staff member.
The key phrase in the last sentence is “used properly,” because when a lift is not used properly, hazards abound which can result in serious injury to the resident. “Used properly” includes using two staff members to assist with the transfer (see here, here, here, here, and here for examples of what happens when one person tries to do a two-person job) and making sure that the lift itself and the sling are in good condition, the right size for the resident, and properly attached to the lift.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the resident was being transferred from her high-back wheelchair to bed using the lift. There were actually three aides assisting with the transfer. One operated the lift while the other two loaded the resident in the sling. After the resident was positioned in the sling, one aide stepped away while the other pulled the wheelchair away, leaving the resident suspended in the air. As they began to move the resident toward her bed, she slipped from the sling, landing on her left side.
The resident suffered significant bruising to her left side, on her arm and on her femur. She developed a hematoma on the leg which became infected and formed and abscess, requiring treatment from a wound care nurse. Eventually, this hematoma led the permanent disfigurement of the resident’s leg.
The investigation of this accident determined that the root cause of this fall was that the sling was too small for the resident. I would add a second one: that there was no staff member controlling the resident in the sling once she was lifted from her wheelchair. One aide stepped away while the other moved the wheelchair. This meant that there was no one to stabilize the resident in the sling while the lift was being moved. Sadly, this kind of fall more often results in more significant injuries such as a brain bleed or a fractured hip.
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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