IDPH has cited and fined the Lutheran Home nursing home in Peoria and a resident there suffered a fractured hip after being dropped from a mechanical lift.
Used properly, a mechanical lift is a useful tool for caring for nursing home residents. They allow residents to be moved safely from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to chair or toilet, etc. They allow residents to be moved safely while being bathed. They also prevent injuries from being twisted while being moved manually. They save wear and tear on the backs, knees, shoulders, and so forth of the staff and help prevent injury to staff as well. Useful tools indeed!
The key phrase in that first sentence of the paragraph above is “used properly.” When not used properly, they set the stage for serious injury to the resident. Proper use includes having two staff members operate the lift (see here, here, here, here, and here for examples of what happens when one person does a two-person job); it includes safe operation of the lift itself (see here and here for examples of what happens when the lift isn’t used properly); and it includes making sure that the lift itself is in good condition and that all of the slings and accessories are in good condition and appropriate for use (see here, here, and here for examples for when that is not true).
Lift slings come in different forms and sizes. There are different sizes to ensure that the sling is appropriate for use with a particular resident. For example a very small resident is likely to slip out of a sling sized for a very large person and vice versa. There also slings for different uses. There are general lift slings, slings that are used for toileting, slings that are used for showers. The type of sling must also be appropriate to the use to which it is being put.
This mechanical lift accident is what happens when the wrong type of sling is put to use and is not used properly.
The resident involved in this nursing home fall required transfers via a mechanical lift. She also was incontinent of bowel and bladder and as a result, would not have been toileted. Nonetheless the aides transferring the resident this day selected a toileting sling to transfer the resident from her recliner. A toileting sling has a hole in the bottom so that the resident can go to the bathroom once placed on the toilet, with the resident’s legs supported by straps that go around the thighs. There are attachments that go from the sling to the lift arms.
As the transfer got underway the buckles from the sling came detached, and the resident was dropped back down to her recliner, purportedly a distance of only an inch. Nonetheless, the resident began to experience pain in the hip which was not alleviated by medication and worsened over time. X-rays were ordered which showed that the resident had a fractured left hip which required surgical repair.
There were a number of failures in the care of this resident which contributed to this fall. First, the wrong type of sling was used. This resident was incontinent so there wasn’t any set of circumstances where she would have been brought to the toilet so the general lift sling should have been used. The general lift sling provides more support to the resident such that the resident likely would not have been dropped when the buckle came detached. Second, the buckle was not secured properly to the lift. When buckled properly, these should be secure for the type of transfer that was being performed. That it failed shortly after the lift got underway serves as evidence that it was not secured properly.
The failure of the staff to use the proper sling is the result either of a failure to adequately train the staff or the nursing home being understaffed such that the staff felt compelled to take a shortcut in the care of the resident. Either way is consistent with the 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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