IDPH has cited and fined University Nursing & Rehabilitation Center nursing home in Edwardsville after a resident there suffered a broken hip and broken shoulder after falling during a transfer with a mechanical lift when the sling to the lift broke during transfer.
Used properly, a mechanical lift is a very beneficial piece of equipment for use in a nursing home. It allows residents who have significant strength and mobility issues to be transferred from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to chair, and so forth safely while at the same time reducing the risk of injury to residents and staff.
The key part of that statement is of course, the “used properly” part. Proper use of a mechanical lift includes making sure that there are two staff members involved in all transfers because having on person do a two-person job is a formula for disaster (see here, here, here, here, and here for examples). The other part of “proper use” is that the lift itself and all of the associated equipment is in condition for safe use and is used properly in accordance with manufacturer specifications.
The resident at issue here required the use of a mechanical lift for all transfers. On the day of this nursing home fall, she was being transferred from a shower chair to her bed. There were two staff present, but during the course of the transfers, the loop that attaches the sling to the lift device itself tore, causing the resident to fall to the ground. The staff member who was assisting the resident during the transfer kept the resident’s head from hitting the floor, but the resident complained of leg pain and back pain. The resident was sent to the hospital where she was diagnosed as suffering from a fractured hip and fractured shoulder.
The investigation into this mechanical lift accident revealed two things. First is that the type of sling in use at the time of the accident was manufactured by a different company than the lift itself. Neither the manufacturer of the lift nor the manufacturer of the sling recommended mixing their products with those made by other companies. Second, the sling had been in use for two years and five months, and the sling manufacturer recommended that its product be replaced after a year. The bottom line is that the sling was being used well past the end of its useful life in a manner that neither the manufacturer of the lift or the manufacturer of the sling recommended.
Past that, there was no set protocol for inspecting the slings to ensure that they were in good condition for use. The administrator told the state surveyor that there was a laundry aide who was good about inspecting the slings but they did not have a protocol for inspecting the slings otherwise. If the laundry aide did not do an inspection, there was no one who regularly did one or was trained to do so. Without having enough trained eyes on the condition of the sling, this was allowed to fall into disrepair, leading to the failure of the sling and injury to this resident.
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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