IDPH has cited and fined Fairhaven Christian Retirement Center after staff members failed to assess and provide adequate pain medications in a timely manner to a resident after a fall that resulted in multiple pelvic fractures and that required hospitalization and surgery.
Maintaining continuity of care from the staff members of the night shift to the staff members of the day shift is critical for the safety and well-being of a resident. When a nurse or an aide fail to communicate the status of a resident, or fail to complete the work they are responsible for prior to leaving for the day, residents can suffer.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the resident was in the common area sitting in a recliner with her feet up from about 5:00 AM so staff members could keep a closer eye on her. A nurse reported to the investigator that around 6:15 AM or 6:30 AM she was at the other end of the hallway finishing her rounds when she saw the resident standing at the recliner holding the alarm box in her hands. The nurse said that the resident was taking stumbling steps forward and backward and was very unsteady. The nurse further said she yelled to the resident and ran toward her but could not get there in time. When she did get to the resident she was moaning and groaning in pain on the floor.
After assessing the resident, a night shift nurse made the decision that there were no major injuries and that the resident could be assisted from the floor back into the recliner.
This same nurse then proceeded to complete one half of an incident report, before handing off the report to a nurse that had arrived for the morning shift. Importantly, the night shift nurse did not complete the incident report, did not complete any charting, and did not notify the resident’s family or doctor of the fall.
Nearly three hours passed before a LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) notified the DON (Director of Nursing) and the family of the fall. The DON instructed the nurse to order an x-ray, which subsequently showed multiple pelvic fractures. The resident was then sent to the ER with subsequent hospitalization and surgery.
The reason that this delay in treatment occurred was the failure to follow the system for completing incident reports that was in place. In this facility the nurse that begins an incident report is usually responsible for completing it in full and making the appropriate notifications to other doctors, family and staff members. The deeper question is why the system wasn’t followed. Investigation by IDPH revealed that the nurse who failed to complete the incident report and make the appropriate notifications was an agency nurse, or a temp. We tend to see a lot of agency nurses in facilities where they have hiring and retention problems, generally due to low pay and heavy work loads. Temporary staff can help address this, but there is little chance to ensure that they are trained in the systems and processes that must be followed for the consistent delivery of routine care.
In the end, this was an injury that was a product of the nursing home business model, where understaffing of the nursing home and lack of investment in the staff are cardinal features – and this is because those kinds of expenses cut into the bottom line.
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.