IDPH has cited and fined Landmark of Richton Park nursing home after a resident there broke both legs after being dropped to the ground when the sling on a lift broke.
Used properly, a mechanical lift is a very beneficial piece of equipment for use in a nursing home. It allows residents who have significant strength and mobility issues to be transferred from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to chair, and so forth safely while at the same time reducing the risk of injury to residents and staff.
The key part of that statement is of course, the “used properly” part. Proper use of a mechanical lift includes making sure that there are two staff members involved in all transfers because having on person do a two-person job is a formula for disaster (see here, here, here, here, and here for examples). The other part of “proper use” is that the lift itself and all of the associated equipment is in condition for safe use and is used properly in accordance with manufacturer specifications. When the equipment is not in good condition or is not used properly, that is a formula for disaster.
The resident at issue was dependent on the use of a mechanical lift for all transfers. The resident care plan called for among other things, use of a mechanical lift with two staff for all transfers, following all safety procedures for transfers, and checking the sling for signs of fraying or loose threads.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the resident was being transferred to bed using a mechanical lift. As required, there were two staff assisting with the transfer. At the time of the transfer, they were using a sling with a hole in the center of it. It was a special sling which was intended for transferring residents to the toilet, not a general use sling.
While the resident was being transferred to bed, the resident got off balance in the sling, in part because of the kind of sling that was being used. As the lift got out of balance, the lift started to tip over, with a portion of the lift hitting the resident’s bed. The strap to the sling broke, and the resident fell to the floor. The resident was brought to the hospital where scans showed that there were fractures of both femurs.
The investigation into this incident revealed two things. First the sling that was used was not appropriate for the task at hand. It was designed for and intended to be used in connection with toileting. Second, the sling itself was in a state of disrepair and should not have been used. As an initial matter, the staff assisting the resident should have inspected the sling before putting it to use. However, the investigation also revealed that the laundry staff was not following the required steps to help maintain fabric integrity. This led to the dismissal of laundry staff.
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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