IDPH has cited and fined Lexington of Orland Park nursing home after a resident there suffered a broken leg while being pushed in her wheelchair.
When it comes to wheelchair-bound residents, the term “self-propelling” means that the resident is able to move themselves in the wheelchair without staff assistance. Usually this is done primarily through the resident using their feet to walk the wheelchair forward with some use of the arms for steering. It is something which promotes the independence and dignity of the resident as it allows them move throughout the facility without having to wait on or depend upon the staff to push them. To improve the resident’s ability to self-propel, the footrests are usually removed from the wheelchair so that they don’t interfere with the resident’s ability to self-propel or cause skin tears or other injury to the resident by striking the resident’s legs.
The downside to self-propelling is that it is a slow process, and staff often doesn’t have time to wait for a resident to self-propel. When the staff needs to get the resident moved more rapidly, they can simply push the resident where they need to go.
This was the situation here – the resident was able to self-propel, but it was meal time so an aide began to push the resident toward the dining room. Because the resident usually self-propelled, her wheelchair had the footrests removed. Instead of placing the footrests back on the wheelchair, the aide simply had the resident hold her legs up. On the way to the dining room, the aide heard a loud popping sound and saw that one of the resident’s legs had gone under the wheelchair.
The resident was brought to the hospital where x-rays showed that she had a broken leg. The resident was placed in an immobilizer. The failure to use footrests on the wheelchair led directly to this injury.
This was a highy preventable injury. All that was required to transport this resident to the dining room safely was to place the footrests on the wheelchair, but the aide failed to do so, either due to the pressure of having to get too much work accomplished in too little time to get it done due to inadequate staff levels, or due to lack of training. Neither reflects well on the nursing home.
As a result, this resident sustained a broken leg which required the application of an immobilizer. This will eliminate her ability to self-propel while it is on, and due to disuse, she may end up losing that ability to self-propel all together. Loss of strength may lead an increased risk of suffering a nursing home fall. Past that, her immobility will also place her at increased risk of developing bed sores as immobility is a prime risk factor for that.
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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