IDPH has cited and fined Tuscola Health Care Center after a resident there suffered a fractured ankle after she was dropped from a lift during transfer.
Used properly, a mechanical lift is a wonderful tool for use in a nursing home. It saves from wear-and-tear on the staff and keeps them from getting hurt. It allows safe transfers of residents who need that level of assistance.
The phrase in the sentence above is “used properly.” Proper use of a mechanical lift requires the assistance of two staff members during transfers (see here, here, and here for examples of what happens when one person does a two-person job), the lift and its accessories must be properly maintained (see here and here for examples of that not occurring), the right accessories must used.
The nursing home fall that is the subject of this citation is what occurs when proper accessories are not used.
The resident issue had a history of stroke with residual weakness on one side. Transfers from bed to wheelchair, wheelchair to chair and so forth were done by lift.
On the day of the fall, the resident was being transferred by two staff from bed to wheelchair using a lift. The sling for the lift was not the right size. Because of this, the straps that pass underneath that resident could not be criss-crossed as normal. Because the transfer was a short distance, the staff decided to attempt it.
As they did so the resident slipped out of the sling, landing on the floor on top of her ankle. X-rays were taken and she was sent to the hospital where she was diagnosed with a fractured ankle. The treating orthopaedic surgeon attributed the fracture to the fall and stated that the resident would have some chronic discomfort in the ankle despite her limited weight bearing status.
This was a highly preventable injury. The right number of people for the transfer were there, but the right accessories to the lift were not. This led directly to the resident’s fall and injury. Had the proper sling been used, this resident likely would not have been injured at all.
The fact that the staff decided to go ahead with the transfer raises questions about whether this is an understaffed nursing home. Whenever there are shortcuts taken in the care of residents, it is an indicator that they do not have time and space to deliver care the way that it needs to be. Sadly, short-staffing is a part 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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