IDPH has cited and fined River Crossing of East Peoria nursing home after a resident there suffered a brain bleed when her wheelchair tipped while being transferred from her bed to her wheelchair by an aide who was attempting the transfer by herself.
Used properly, mechanical lifts are a useful tool in nursing homes. They allow residents who need that level of assistance to be transferred to and from their bed, chair, wheelchair, toilet, and so forth. It reduces the risk of injury to residents and staff alike from attempting to transfer residents manually who truly require a higher level of assistance.
The key to this is of course that the lift be used properly. Proper operation of the lift requires the assistance of two staff members – one to operate the controls of the lift itself; the other to handle the resident in the sling of the lift. One common theme in many of the citations we have written about is that the injury to the resident resulted from one person doing a two-person job (see here, here, here, here, and here for examples).
On the morning of this nursing home fall, the resident was being transferred from bed to her wheelchair to be brought to breakfast. The resident required the assistance of two staff with most activities of daily living because she was not able to use one arm or her legs. She also required the assistance of two staff and a mechanical lift for transfers. There were two staff members present when the resident was getting her morning care but had left the room when it was time for her to be transferred from her bed to her wheelchair.
Rather than get another staff member to come help, the aide attempted to transfer the resident from her bed to her wheelchair on her own. The required being able to control the left, the remote control for the lift, and the resident all on her own – a task which is simply impossible to do safely.
As the resident was being lowered into her wheelchair, she was not positioned properly in the wheelchair so that her weight was high and to the rear. This resulted in the wheelchair tipping over and the resident falling backwards to the floor, hitting the back of her head on the floor. She was brought to hospital where she was diagnosed with a brain bleed.
The aide, who was agency staff, had been trained that two staff were required for mechanical lift transfers was told to leave the facility and would not be allowed to return – essentially, she was fired. She admitted to the state inspector that she knew that two people were required for mechanical lift transfers, but did not wait for help because it was so busy.
When staff takes shortcuts in the care of residents – such as attempting a two-person job on their own – it raises the issue of whether the nursing home was understaffed. Federal regulations require that the nursing home have enough staff on hand to meet the care needs of the residents on a 24/7 basis. Unfortunately, nursing home often fail to meet that standard because understaffing is a key component 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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