IDPH has cited and fined Oak Brook Care nursing home after a resident there fractured a hip when she tripped over a towel after being showered.
Falls are a major issue in the long-term care industry. Many residents in nursing homes suffer from osteoporosis or brittle bone disease which predisposes them to suffering fractures during falls. Also, many nursing home residents take blood thinners, or anti-coagulant medications, which place them at increased risk of suffering a brain bleed. Moreover, falls tend to beget more falls, so preventing falls is a major focus in the nursing home industry.
One of the ways that fall prevention is addressed in the nursing home setting is through the care planning process where residents are specifically assessed for their risk of falling and a specific set of measures are put into place to minimize the risk of nursing home falls occurring. Steps in a care plan are intended to be tailored and specific to the individual resident, but there are other steps which should be taken universally to help prevent falls.
One of these universal steps is to keep areas free of tripping hazards and clutter. This stands to reason – with an aging population in the nursing home who are dealing with significant and progressive physical challenges, you want to present them with as few challenges as possible in moving from place to place.
The resident at issue suffered from a variety of health challenges which made her a fall risk including a history of falls, a history of hip fracture, chronic pain, weakness, lack of coordination, abnormal weakness, and right sided weakness due to stroke. On the morning of the accident she was brought to the shower in a shower chair. On return, the aide assisting the resident placed a towel on the floor so that the resident could move from the shower chair to the bed without slipping on the wet floor. As the resident moved from the shower chair to the bed, she lost her balance and fell to the ground, suffering a fractured hip which required surgery. Normally, the aide would have used a gait belt to transfer the resident from the shower chair to the bed, but the resident was naked so the aide didn’t want to apply the gait belt to her bare skin.
In this case, the towel on the floor was an obvious tripping hazard which should have not been left on the floor for the resident to trip over. Obviously, a wet floor can cause someone to slip and fall, too, so the solution would have been to dry the resident (and preferably dress her too, so the gait belt could be used) before transferring the resident to bed. Simple safety steps not taken – and major injury to the resident was the result.
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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