IDPH has cited Macomb Post Acute Care Center nursing home after a resident there suffered a fractured hip one one side and fractured tibia and fibula on the other when she was thrown from her wheelchair while being driven back to the facility by an aide.
Some nursing homes have vans available for transporting residents to and from doctor appointments, planned outings, and so forth. These vans are often specially equipped with lifts to help residents get in and out of the van safely and with special restraint systems to make sure that all residents, especially those in wheelchairs, are safe while the van is in operation.
Like any piece of equipment in a nursing home, a van is only safe for use when used properly, which requires the staff to be trained on its proper use. The nursing home in fact had a policy in place which required those operating the van to obtain permission to use the van and to do so in a manner which was consistent with their training.
There are three primary components of a restraint system for a wheelchair: (1) a tethering system for the wheels to the chair to ensure that it stays locked in place while the resident is in the van, (2) a shoulder harness system, and (3) a pelvic/lap restraint system. The details obviously vary, but the lap and shoulder systems essentially act like a seat belt in a car. All of these components need to be in place and used properly for the resident to be moved safely in the van.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the resident was being brought to a local homecoming parade by an aide. The aide did not get permission from any supervisor to take the resident from the facility in the van. She borrowed keys from a nurse to get into the office where the keys for the van were locked.
The aide brought the resident to the parade and was on her way back to the facility when the accident occurred. When the resident was loaded onto the van, the tethering system was in place and the shoulder harness, but not the lap restraint. It was bot in use because the aide could not find it – meaning that the resident was brought to the parade without it also. Fortunately no injury occurred on the way, but good luck is no substitute for good care.
The resident was injured when the aide hit a bump in the road while returning to the facility. The jolt from hitting the bump caused the resident to fly up in the air from her seat. She came down, she slid off the edge of her wheelchair cushion and onto the floor of the van.
The resident had immediate pain, and according to the aide, “her right ankle looked messed up.” Rather than call 911, the aide first put the resident back into the wheelchair and then called the nursing home who told her to return to the nursing home. After the nurse had a chance to assess the resident, 911 was called and the resident was sent to the hospital.
There she was diagnosed with a displaced fracture of the left hip, a comminuted fracture of the right tibia and a fracture of the right fibula. She underwent surgery on the left hip and was placed in a cast for the tibia and fibula fractures. The fractures on the lower right leg will probably impede any recovery she was likely to make from the hip fracture which will have long-term negative effects on her health and well-being.
While the motive for taking the resident from the facility was pure (taking her to the homecoming parade), a pure heart does not excuse an empty head. Not only did the aide take the resident from the facility without permission, she did so without having received the necessary training on how to do so safely. As a result, the resident was not properly restrained in the van and fell from her wheelchair and was badly injured.
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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