IDPH has cited and fined Rochelle Rehabilitation & Health Care Center nursing home after a resident there suffered a broken leg in a fall caused by the failure of the staff to use footrests while pushing the resident in a wheelchair.
On the surface, a wheelchair is a safe, simple piece of equipment to use. However, like all equipment in a nursing home setting it must be used properly. When it is being pushed by staff, that includes the use of foot rests. Foot rests are required when the wheelchair is being pushed by staff because the failure to use foot rests requires residents to keep their feet up off the ground while they are being pushed forward. If residents are unable to do so because of physical or cognitive limitations, one of two things happen when the residents are no longer able to keep their feet up: (1) the resident’s feet get pulled underneath the wheelchair, resulting in twisting injuries to the leg which can cause fractures or torn ligaments and cartilage or (2) the resident can be thrown forward out the wheelchair, resulting in injuries such as a brain bleed, facial fractures, or broken collarbones, or wrists.
Sometimes, a fall from a wheelchair causes both. And that was the case here.
The resident involved had cognitive impairments and was wheelchair bound. She was being pushed by an aide in a wheelchair with no foot rests. According to the aide, the resident stomped her foot job and sprang out of her seat “like a jack in the box.” She landed on the floor and had a large laceration to the forehead that was immediately apparent. She was sent to the hospital where she was also diagnosed with a fractured femur and additional scans showed two fractured vertebrae in the neck which were age indeterminant.
This is exactly the kind of nursing home fall which is going to result from pushing a nursing home resident in a wheelchair with no foot rests. The failure to take these very simple steps raises a couple of questions about the operation of the nursing home, specifically with regard to the training of the staff and whether this was an understaffed nursing home. Either one of these speaks to the investment that nursing home management is making in ensuring that the care needs of the residents are being met. 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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