IDPH has cited and fined Alden Town Manor nursing home in Cicero after a resident wandered out the front door in a wheelchair and rolled down the front stairs, suffering multiple injuries which resulted in the wrongful death of this nursing home resident.
The resident at issue was wheelchair-bound due to hemiplegia (paralysis on one side, often associated with the residuals of a stroke) and had been assessed as having significant cognitive issues related to dementia. He was recognized as being a fall risk. He had family that visited often and there was an order in place that permitted him to go out on pass in the company of family. The family often visited and would take him out on the front porch which was just outside the front door.
As a matter of practice, the facility often kept the front door propped open to allow residents to easily access the front porch and tasked the front desk receptionist with watching for residents who were elopement risks.
On the day of the incident, the residentat issue headed to the front door at about the same time that a resident who was a known elopement risk entered the front lobby. The receptionist left the front desk area to get a piece of candy to divert the other resident, not pyaing much attention to the resident at issue who she had seen out on the front porch frequently with family.
With the receptionist away from the front desk, the resident pushed himself out the front door and down the five front steps to the facility, crashing to the sidewalk below. As a result of this nursing home fall, the resident suffered multiple brain bleeds and multiple fractures, all of which resulted in his wrongful death five days later.
There are a number of issues that come immediately to mind with regard to this accident.
First, federal regulations require the nursing home to provide supervision and assistive devices necessary to prevent accidents. Falls and elopement fall under the category of “accidents” under the federal regulations, and leaving this cognitively impaired resident unobserved and unattended by staff or family near the stairs in a wheelchair is not adequate supervision.
Second, leaving the front door propped open so that residents can freely go in and out the front door is a hazard of the nursing home’s own making. Stairwells in nursing homes pose a safety hazard, which is why they are routinely locked as a fall prevention measure. The front exterior stairs are no less of a hazard to residents, not to mention the fact that is a literal open door for a resident who wants to elope (or leave the facility and wander in the surrounding community). Keeping watch on the front door is something that needed to be done, but leaving it in the hands of a receptionist to handle full time was an invitation to disaster.
Third, the citation indicates that the resident had not been assessed as an elopment risk for approximately two years prior to this accident. This speaks to a breakdown in the care planning process as the risk of elopement is one area which is routinely assessed and care planned for when necessary. Failing to consider this risk is a failure to follow the care planning process.
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 residents are the inevitable results. 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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