IDPH has cited and fined Loft Rehab of Rock Springs nursing home in Decatur after a resident there sustained a fractured ankle while being transferred from her wheelchair to her bed with the assistance of a single aide rather than the two which were required.
Used properly, a mechanical lift is a helpful piece of equipment in a nursing home. It allows residents to be safely transferred from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to chair, and so forth. It also spares the staff the task of moving residents manually, which reduces the incidence of injury to the staff from lifting injuries and to residents from rough or improper handling while being moved.
The key phrase in the paragraph above is “used properly.” This is because when the lift is not used properly, the potential for disaster lurks. Proper use of the lift includes the staff being properly trained in the use of the lift, two staff involved in the transfer (one to handle the resident, the other to manage the controls), and all of the equipment and accessories on the lift itself being in good working condition. One of the more common types of accidents we see with the use of lift is having one person doing a two-person job (see here, here, and here for examples).
On the day of this nursing home fall, the resident was being transferred from her wheelchair to her bed using a lift. There was only a single aide involved in the transfer. While the resident was being lifted from her wheelchair to her bed, her lower leg became entangled in the foot rests to the wheelchair. The aide completed the completed the transfer and put the resident to bed. The following morning, the resident was complaining of pain, and the nurse on duty found that the resident’s ankle was bruised, swollen, and painful to touch. The resident was sent to the hospital where CT scans showed that there were multiple fractures of the ankle. However, because the resident was nonweight bearing, they elected to proceed without surgery.
This was a highly preventable injury. All that had to be done was for a second aide to participate in the transfer. The very purpose of that second aide is to help handle the resident and this would have likely avoided the entanglement with the wheelchair footrests and the resulting injury. Although the resident was nonweight bearing, this kind of fracture does have serious negative implications for her activity level and her overall quality of life.
The deeper and more important questions is why did the aide skip the step of having a second staff member there? She told the state surveyor that she was in a hurry that evening. Being in too much of a hurry to provide safe care is a hallmark of an understaffed nursing home. Sadly, understaffing a nursing home is a part 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.
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