Nursing Home Liability For Dropped Residents

By harley erbe

First Aid Kit 006

Nursing home residents are often unable to move around the facility on their own.  Instead, they need help from the facility's staff.  While that can usually be accomplished by use of a wheelchair, the resident may need assistance transitioning from a bed or chair into the wheelchair.  Nursing home falls or drops frequently occur during that crucial transition period, causing serious personal injuries or death

Even though the nursing facility may have rules or procedures concerning patient transfers from one location to another, those procedures are oftentimes ignored or forgotten because the staff member is hurried, inexperienced, or outright negligent.  The cause of dropped patients is usually not intentional nursing home abuse.  Rather, patients are dropped because nursing facility staff members don't following procedures or use poor judgment.  These accidents also happen because nursing facilities try to save money by minimizing staff, reducing training, and not purchasing the equipment necessary for patient safety.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that a significant majority of nursing home residents cannot walk without assistance of some nature.  Nursing home resident transfers commonly include transfers involving wheelchairs, toilet facilities, changing chairs, and using bathing facilities.  "Hoyer lifts" are often used in nursing homes to help disabled residents during such transfers.  A hoyer lift, sometimes called a patient lift, uses a sling to help nursing home residents move from one area to another during a transfer, for example from a bed  into a wheelchair.  They are typically hung overhead from a ceiling or placed on the floor.  After the nursing home resident is placed in the sling, the hoyer lift then elevates the person in the sling and allows them to be moved.

Numerous factors can cause hoyer lift accidents.  Nursing home staff members must know how hoyer lifts operate.  They must be extremely careful when transferring a resident on a hoyer lift.  A common cause of hoyer lift accidents is a staff member's failure to properly cross the lift's safety straps over the resident, allowing the resident to fall out of the lift.  A fall can also happen if the nursing home resident is not properly placed in the lift.  

Nursing home resident falls and drops, although from a height that wouldn't normally cause serious injury to most folks, can be devastating for frail or bedridden patients.  Their bodies are less able to withstand a fall, to say nothing of the fact that they may be physically unable to protect themselves during the fall.  Those circumstances commonly cause significant fall injuries, such as broken bones in the hips, arms, legs, and face, traumatic brain injury, internal bleeding and organ damage, and even death.

If this happens to your family, don't let the nursing facility get by with excuses.  Do something about it by contacting a Des Moines nursing home injury lawyer.  The nursing facility is being paid for accepting your family member as a resident and all of the responsibility that comes with that.  That responsibility includes ensuring that the nursing facility's staffing levels are sufficient to allow staff members adequate time to safely work with the residents at all hours of the day.  It also includes providing proper training and equipment for all staff members.

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