Many nursing home residents are unable to move from one location to another and need the assistance of nursing home staff to makes these moves. Just getting from their bed to a wheelchair is a feat and requires that healthcare workers are there to lift them safely to their chairs. While most nursing facilities have protocols on how to properly transfer these patients, too often these procedures are not followed and the patient gets dropped during the move.
The Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC have experience with patients who have suffered injuries or even fatalities when staff drops them. While staff at a facility may claim that and incident was 'unavoidable' or simply did not occur, you can rest assured that our office will get you the answers you deserve when it comes to how any why an incident occurred.
Contact our law office today for a free case review of your patient injury drop case today.
Types Of Transfers Used By Staff To Move Physically Disabled Patients
Most nursing home patients are dropped during routine transfer from one area to the next. Many of these patients have limited mobility and require a wheelchair and the drop will happen when they are transferred into or out of the chair. Common types of transfers are:
- From bed to wheelchair or visa versa
- From wheelchair to shower or bath
- Using the toilet
- Sling lift falls
- From one chair to another
- Hoyer Lift falls
These activities happen throughout the day and many facilities have rules regarding transfers. Depending on the mobility or weight of the patient, there may need to be two or more staff members
needed for the transfer and sometimes the use of a mechanical lift is needed.
Dropped Patient Injuries
The injuries that can occur from dropping a patient that is already frail can be catastrophic. Many times the patient is elevated when the fall occurs and is unable to break the fall due to a weakened condition. The patient may fall directly on to their hip or tailbone and may be awkwardly positioned when they do so.
Some injuries that happened during these types of falls are:
Falls are the leading cause of injury death in elderly patients 65 years or older and 1 out of 3 elderly falls every year. However, those living in assisted living facilities and skilled nursing facilities are even more susceptible to falls, having an average of 2.6 falls per patient, per year. These falls account for 87% of fractures in the elderly.
Why Patients Are Dropped
Most times when a patient is dropped by a health care worker, it is not a matter of abuse but instead bad judgment or not following protocol in the patient's plan of care.
However, it is not always just the staff members that are at fault. Many nursing facilities are grievously understaffed and have poor training for their employees.
Also, lack of equipment or poorly maintained equipment that is needed for safe transfers can also be an issue. Yet in other situations, commonly used Hoyer Lifts are not properly maintained or replaced when needed putting patients at risk for serious injury.
Sample Lawsuits, Verdicts & Settlements Involving Dropped Patient Injury and Wrongful Death
$500,000: Chicago, Illinois, Settlement to Dropped Patient
This incident became the subject of a widely-read press story in the Chicagoland area. It involved an eighty-year-old man. He lived in a nursing facility. For a long time, he resided at the facility without any problems. Then, the trouble came. Apparently, a nurse tried to get him out of bed or a wheelchair, reports differ.
However, in the process of this transfer, she dropped him. He fell to the floor and broke his hip. Unfortunately, rather than report the incident so that the man could get medical attention, the nurse did nothing. It took the man’s daughter to notice it and do something for the man to eventually get help. That was a few days later.
Doctors deemed the matter serious and operated on him. Then, the family brought a lawsuit against the nursing facility. The plaintiff claimed the home and its staff were negligent for dropping him, not proving proper training, and then failing to get him to help after the accident.
They sought compensation for all of the harms that followed including pain, suffering, and medical bills. In a private settlement, the plaintiffs received $500,000 in compensation from the defendant.$650,000: Cook County, IL: Settlement after Dropped Patient Accident
This case became so serious because the resident actually died after being dropped. The injured resident was a female in her early eighties. The woman had Parkinson’s disease.
This and other health problems demanded constant supervision from the caregivers. In their own policies and procedures, the facility declared that two staff members needed to be present for all patient transfers. Yet, on one incident, only a single nurse was there to help her move. That nurse dropped her.
The woman fell to ground and suffered intense injuries. Internal bleeding began to erupt all over her body, and she died not long after she was dropped. Three of her children survived her. They were all adults. Collectively, they brought a wrongful death and negligence lawsuit against the facility. In their complaint, they pointed to the defendant's home’s deviation from its own policies as the cause of the woman’s death.
To account for this, they sought damages for the woman’s pain, their loss, and the expenses that resulted including enormous medical bills. The defendant nursing facility offered to settle in the amount of $650,000 and the family consented.$375,000 Illinois, Settlement for Dropped Patient Accident
This dispute was an example of something getting a lot worse because of neglect. The victim was a male nursing home resident in his late fifties. He entered the facility because he required care and supervision for multiple sclerosis as well as other serious medical conditions. Allegedly, the lift team dropped him as they tried to get him out of a van.
He needed help because he was in a wheelchair. They did not fasten him into the chair properly. That is why he dropped to the ground. However, adding further aggravation to the original injury, they did not take him to a doctor after this accident. Therefore, the total extent of his fall-related injuries were not discovered for several weeks.
By then, the bone fracture he suffered in the original incident became infected. Doctors needed to amputate the leg below the knee to prevent further complications. Through lawyers, the man sued the facility for negligence. He maintained that the defendant’s negligent transfer caused him to fall and their negligent care allowed his injuries to worsen. He obtained $375,000 from the facilities insurance company in a private settlement.$230,000 Chicago, IL Settlement to Dropped Patient
The resident in this dropped accident case was eighty-eight years old. She needed assistive devices to get around the facility. The home used a Hoyer lift to transfer her. However, when they tried getting her into bed, she slipped and fell out. They dropped her to the floor. She broke her hip.
That complicated into larger problems including pneumonia. She died one week later. Her adult children believed the negligence in training staff on the proper use of a Hoyer lift and that was why she died. They sued on her behalf. The defendant facility replied that it might have been negligent but should not shoulder the burden for her entire death.
They offered that she was very old and sick before this incident and might not have lived long anyway. This entire rationale logic might explain the relatively low settlement figure ($230,000) for a dropped patient case. In the end though, the family accepted the offer for their pain and loss.
Lawyers for Patients Who are Injured When Dropped by Staff and Hoyer Lift
The root cause of most incidents involving a patient dropped at a nursing home
, assisted living
or another medical facility is the negligence of the facility in assessing the patient’s care needs or the negligence of individual staff members responsible for implementing the care.
We will work with our team of experts to fully investigate the incident and get to the underlying factors behind the incident. If the nursing facility is at fault, we will fight to get the best possible financial award and will go to trial if a settlement is not an option.
We offer free consultations
and we invite you to meet with us
to discuss your situation. Don’t accept an explanation that your loved one’s ‘dropping incident’ was unavoidable.