When you think of issues plaguing nursing homes, neglect and abuse may come to mind. But many people don’t think of wheelchair accidents. Maybe they should, given that 80 percent of nursing residents use a wheelchair, they can pose a significant safety issue.
Wheelchairs are meant to assist those with mobility issues. However, in many cases, they can do more harm than good. They cause more than 100,000 emergency room visits every year, with most accidents occurring in medical settings such as nursing homes.
If your loved one was injured in a wheelchair accident, the nursing facility may be to blame. The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help determine liability as well as your rights to compensation. Call today at (312) 236-2900.
Types of Wheelchair Accidents
Neglect, distractions, improper training, and other issues can cause nursing home staff to cause unnecessary injuries to residents. Some common wheelchair accidents are:
- Tip-overs. Tip-overs are the most common type of accident. While wheelchairs appear to be relatively stable, they are prone to tip-overs, especially if the resident isn’t being cooperative. Placing the wheelchair on a slanted surface can also cause it to tip. When it tips, the resident may lack the reflexes to try to prevent a fall. As a result, the resident could fall to the ground and suffer serious injuries.
- Unsafe transfers. Transferring a patient to and from a wheelchair is one of the most dangerous activities in a nursing home. Moving a patient requires skill and strength, and doing it incorrectly can cause the patient to fall or injure fingers inside the wheelchair’s mechanism. Wheelchair transfers also require setting the brake, which many staff members fail to do due to lack of training.
- Lack of maintenance. Wheelchairs are a type of medical equipment, and in order to keep patients safe, they need to be maintained regularly. Brakes and padding can wear out, resulting in malfunctions and accidents.
- Car accidents. Residents who need transport need to be placed in a vehicle while in a wheelchair. During loading, the wheelchair could get stuck on the ramp or lift, causing a fall. Another type of accident occurs when the wheelchair is not secure and the patient’s seat belt is unfastened. A sudden stop can cause the patient to fall. This has led to many fatalities.
Using a wheelchair for an extended period of time can cause injuries. While placing a resident in a wheelchair can prevent falls to some degree, they can also cause injuries such as:
- Pressure sores. Wheelchairs tend to lack adequate padding, and sitting in one position for too long can lead to pressure sores.
- Physical harm. While staff should be controlling the wheelchair, many seniors try to propel it on their own, causing muscle strain, back and shoulder pain, carpal tunnel, and other issues.
- Internal issues. Sitting for an extended period of time can lead to urinary tract infections, constipation, and even pneumonia.
- Decreased quality of life. Sitting in a wheelchair can cause a patient to feel depressed and isolated. Movement and socialization are great ways to improve the quality of life.
These injuries are often attributed to the nursing home staff due to neglect and improper training. Wheelchairs are uncomfortable and not meant to be used all day long. Residents would do better to move around and at least walk, even if some assistance is required.
Getting Legal Help
Nursing home issues such a wheelchair accidents are almost always preventable. Unless the wheelchair has an uncommon defect that is causing it to function improperly, then the nursing home is likely to be at fault.
Employees must supervise wheelchair-bound residents at all times. Even allowing a resident to sit in a wheelchair for just a few minutes without a staff member present can quickly lead to an accident.
Neglect, lack of training, and poor maintenance can all lead to injury accidents. While some injuries are minor – involving bruises and lacerations – some are more severe and can involve fractures and head trauma.
The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. can help your loved one recover from the pain and suffering of a wheelchair accident. It’s possible to hold the liable parties accountable and receive compensation for your loved one’s suffering. Preserve your legal rights and get more information by calling (312) 236-2900.