IDPH has cited and fined Friendship Village nursing home in Schaumburg after a resident there fell and suffered a fractured knee due to the failure of an aide to use a gait belt in transferring a resident from his wheelchair to bed.
On the day of the accident, the resident was visiting with his wife in his room when he became tired and asked to be out to bed. The aide came into the room to transfer the resident from his wheelchair to his bed. His wife saw that the aide had her gait belt in her pocket and told the aide that she was going to need to use the gait belt to help transfer him because he was feeling tired and weak.
The aide ignored her instructions and tried to transfer him using the elastic from his shorts instead. The elastic broke and he fell forward to the ground. He was sent to the hospital where x-rays showed that he had a nondisplaced fracture of the kneecap. His leg was placed in an immobilizer brace, but he has recurrent pain in the knee such that he is no longer able to stand on his own.
The nursing home had a policy in place at the time of the incident which required the staff to use gait belts during transfers. A gait belt is a canvas starp that is applied around the midsection which allows staff members to control a resident during transfers and to help prevent falls from occurring or when the resident does lose balance to keep the fall under control in order to minimze the chances of injury.
The failure to use the gait belt under these circumstances was a violation of the nursing home’s own policies and would be a reasonable basis for a nursing home abuse and neglect lawsuit. The whole point of the policy is to avoid preventable nursing home falls like this one, and while the injury itself is one which a defense lawyer may minimze (“it’s a nondisplaced fracture”), a broken kneecap is a serious injury. And this same set of facts could just have easily yielded a truly catastrophic injury like a fractured hip or a brain bleed. As is, this gentleman lost the ability to stand and this going to have serious, long-term consequences for his overall state of health and well-being and will at a minimum put him at increased risk for developing bed sores.
The real question to this though is why did the aide fail to use the gait belt even when she was explicitly asked to use it? The answer will likely take some form of feeling rushed and with too much work to do and too little time to get it done. This is of course a consequence of understaffing of the nursing home which 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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