IDPH has cited and fined South Holland Manor nursing home after a resident there suffered a broken ankle while being transported in a wheelchair that had no footrests.
There are many items of equipment in a nursing home which are there to help residents maintain an optimal state of health and safety – items such as a Hoyer lift or an air mattress. The flip side of many of these items is that when they are not used correctly, they can pose an unnecessary risk of harm to the resident. And so it is with the wheelchair ….
For a wheelchair to be used safely, the footrests must be properly attached and the resident’s feet placed on them. Without the use of footrests, the legs can get caught underneath the wheelchair while it is moving, resulting in orthopaedic injuries; the resident can tip forward out of the chair and suffer lacerations, fractures, or a brain bleed; or the resident’s feet and legs can strike a piece of furniture or a doorway, resulting in fractures or skin tears.
This is what occurred here. The resident was removed from bed by an aide and placed in his wheelchair. No footrests were used. As the aide attempted to take the resident around a corner, his foot got caught against his roommate’s bed. The resident was eventually taken to the emergency room where it was determined that he suffered an ankle fracture. Because the resident was nonambulatory already, the family elected to have the fractured healed by placing it an orthopaedic boot rather than having the resident undergo surgery.
It is obvious that the aide should not have tried to move this resident without the use of the footrests to the wheelchair. The real question is, why not? Putting footrests on a wheelchair is a pretty simple thing to do – a practiced hand should be able to get both footrests on and in position with the resident’s feet and legs properly placed in a matter of a couple of minutes. I would venture to bet that if the aide were asked, he would say that he was in a hurry, was behind, or something similar. These are answers which are a strong indicator of an understaffed nursing home, and in understaffed nursing homes, there are many times when resident safety is sacrificed in the name of expediency.
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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