IDPH has cited and fined Loft Rehab of Rock Springs nursing home in Decatur after a resident there suffered a fractured hip due to tripping over decorative landscaping in the facility smoking area.
Some are surprised to learn that residents in nursing homes are permitted to smoke – it is a health care facility after all! However, nursing homes are the home for the residents there and as adults, residents have the right to smoke. However, unlike in a private residence, residents in a nursing home are not permitted to smoke wherever they please. Nursing homes have a designated area – usually a patio – where residents are permitted to smoke.
However, like all areas within a nursing home, the smoking area must be safe for residents. Federal regulations relating to nursing home falls require that the facility be as free of accident hazards as possible. Further, one of the standard fall prevention measures in every fall prevention care plan is to keep areas free of clutter and tripping or slipping hazards.
The resident at issue was someone who was at risk for falls. He required the assistance of a wheelchair or walker for mobility and had difficulty when rising from a seated position.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the resident went to the smoking area accompanied by a member of the housekeeping staff. As he got up from his chair to return indoors, the wheel to his walker got caught on a decorative railroad tie. The resident fell to the ground with obvious pain to the left hip. He was brought to the emergency room where he was diagnosed with a hip fracture.
The post-fall investigation concluded that the decorative railroad tie was the cause of the fall and an unnecessary tripping hazard.
This fall demonstrates how the tension between the business objectives of nursing home management clashes with the care needs of residents. Management wants to have an attractive facility – families that tour the facility want to see their loved ones in a place that at least looks nice. Things like decorative railroad ties on a patio are stylish and visually appealing even as they create additional hazards for residents. Having the decorative railroad tie there was a choice that management made which sacrificed the safety of residents. Unfortunately that is a common thread in the decisions that get made about how nursing home are managed.
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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