IDPH has cited and fined Bella Terra Schaumburg nursing home after the staff there knowingly used a mechanical lift with a broken attachment to the sling. This led to a resident being dropped from the lift during transfer and suffering a brain bleed.
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).
The only proper course of action when the lift and all of its equipment is not in proper shape is to take it out of service. This is what happens when the staff decides to soldier on using equipment it knows was defective.
The resident at issue had multiple long term conditions and required all transfers to be done with a mechanical lift. One week before this nursing home fall, the staff on the third floor (where this resident was housed) saw that the clip which attached the sling to the lift arm was broken. They notified the Director of Nursing who inexplicably told them to continue using the lift.
According to the citation, there were 13 residents on the third floor who required mechanical lift transfers. Each of these residents likely required several transfers each day. And for each transfer, the staff made a choice to continue using equipment which it should have recognized as being unsafe for use with the residents. And for a time, they got away with it.
But good luck is no substitute for good care, and eventually the luck ran out, and it was this resident who paid the price.
The resident was being transferred when the slings lipped loose from the lift arm, causing the resident to fall to the ground. She was taken to the hospital where a head wound was closed with staples and the resident was diagnosed as having suffered a brain bleed.
This injury was highly preventable, and worse the hazard which caused the injury here was known not just to staff, but management as well. And management ordered the lift to continue to be used. This is utterly inexcusable.
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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