IDPH has cited and fined Villa at South Holland nursing home after a resident suffered multiple fractures in his lower back after a lift tipped over during transfer.
Used properly, a mechanical lift is a helpful device for transferring residents in a nursing home setting. Of course, the first phrase of the last sentence is the key – “used properly”. When a lift is not used properly, it places resident at risk of serious harm.
When a transfer is taking place, the resident is suspended from the arm of the lift in a sling. One staff member operates the lift itself while the other staff member keeps the resident steady in the sling and guides the resident in the sling to the final destination.
Because the resident is suspended in the sling, there is a very high center of gravity, which places the lift at risk of tipping over during the transfer. To combat the risk of the lift tipping over, the legs of the lift should be spread as wide open as possible. This helps ensure that the lift has a solid base while the transfer is underway.
On the day of this nursing home fall, the resident was being transferred from bed to wheelchair using the mechanical lift. Two aides were involved in the transfer (which is a good thing – as we have written many times about what happens when one person does a two-person job: see here, here, here, here, and here for examples. Unfortunately, the aide working the controls narrowed the legs as the lift brought the resident in place to be lowered into his wheelchair. As that happened, the lift began to tip over. The aides were unable to bring it under control, and the resident fell to the ground. Her was brought to the hospital where x-rays showed that he had fractures of the spinous processes of three different vertebrae in his lower back.
Obviously, improper use of the lift was the prime culprit in this incident. Sadly, poor training of the staff is often at the root of incidents brought on by the misuse of nursing home equipment. Poor training of of staff is indicative of an unwillingness of the part of nursing home management to make investments in the staff, and failing to invest in the staff is a core 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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