IDPH has cited and fined Addolorata Villa in Wheeling after a resident there was left by the activity staff alone with two dining services staff members. The resident subsequently tried to rise up from her wheelchair, fell to the ground and suffered a left hip fracture.
Falls are a major issue in the long-term care industry because they have such significant implications for the well-being of residents. Fall risk is one of the areas which is specifically assessed during resident assessments during the care planning process. There are a number of tools that are used at different facilities, but the two common threads to assessing a resident’s fall risk are (1) some type of gait, neurologic, or musculoskeletal dysfunction which makes it difficult for a resident to walk, stand, or transfer safely, and (2) some type of cognitive deficit such as dementia, intermittent or constant confusion, or simple poor safety awareness or judgment.
The reason that cognitive deficits contribute to a resident’s fall risk is that the resident cannot be counted on to follow instructions or take basic precautions for their own safety. Because of this, keeping the resident under close observation is a mainstay of fall prevention. In fact, federal regulations pertaining to nursing home falls require nursing homes to provide supervision and assistance necessary to prevent accidents. Usually, this takes the form of keeping residents who are at risk for falls near the nurse’s station, the dining room, the activity area or some other common area where the staff can keep an eye on what the residents are doing.
The resident at issue here had a diagnosis of Dementia, Major Depressive Disorder, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Osteoarthritis. Importantly, a nurse remarked that if the resident attempted to get up from her wheelchair, she needed both physical cues and physical contact in order to sit back down. She would not just sit down on her own if asked by a staff member.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the resident was left by herself in the dining hall for approximately 20 minutes by the Life Enrichment Aid, who was busy bringing other residents back to their rooms. The only other staff in the dining hall were dining services members.
Dining services staff are asked by the facility to keep an eye on residents. If a resident attempts to get out of their wheelchairs they are instructed to ask the resident to sit down, but since they are not clinically trained, they are not permitted to physically contact the residents.
The dining staff members claim that they were keeping an eye on the resident in question, but that she “was trying to scoot herself up.” A dining staff member told her to sit down and that someone was coming for her. The resident was lifting her bottom by using the arm rest on the chair to lift herself. The dining staff member then said that she turned from the resident for a moment, and when she turned back the resident was on the floor.
The resident was rushed off to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with a fractured left hip.
Whenever there is a report that staff which were required were not present, this raises a question of whether the nursing home is understaffed. Sadly, understaffing of nursing homes is a feature, not a bug of the nursing home business model. 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.