The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 2.2 million people in the United States today depend on a wheelchair to get around daily. It is no secret, then, that many residents in nursing homes require wheelchairs to meet their individual mobility needs.
3 Common Ways Nursing Home Wheelchair Accidents Occur
Although wheelchairs can assist people with mobility issues, they can also pose serious danger to people using them if used improperly or if a person using a wheelchair is not appropriately monitored in a nursing home setting.
Here are three of the most common ways patients and nursing home residents are injured in wheelchair accidents:
1. Poor Wheelchair Maintenance
Wheelchairs are made up of several important parts, including things like padding and brakes. These parts must be maintained for a wheelchair to function properly and not cause injury to a user.
Nursing home staff are typically responsible for monitoring the condition of equipment such as wheelchairs and ensuring that such equipment functions properly.
2. Transfer Accidents
Nursing homes should have specific protocols for transferring patients into and out of wheelchairs. Failure to have these protocols and/or failure to adhere to them can result in serious injury to a patient during any stage of wheelchair use.
3. Leaving Patients Unattended
Leaving patients unattended is often the precursor to a wheelchair accident in a nursing home. Many nursing homes find themselves understaffed in order to maximize profits. The less staff means less supervision which leads to more injuries. When that happens, it can result in injuries related to:
- Tipping Over or Falling: Patients left unattended are prone to the common wheelchair accidents caused by the wheelchair tipping over or the patient falling out of the chair.
- Collisions: Sometimes, patients are not just left unattended in a hallway or their room, but on a ramp or in another public area. This can lead to accidents involving motor vehicles, cleaning equipment, or a variety of other obstacles that could be avoided with adequate staffing levels.
Many of these situations can be avoided by having proper procedures in place in a nursing home that address general guidelines for wheelchair use, and by also considering individual patient history with wheelchair use.
Common Injuries Related to Wheelchair Misuse
Some other common injuries that result from misuse of a wheelchair include:
- Physical Injury: Some physical injuries, like muscle fatigue and weakness due to long periods of immobility, can be hard to see.
- Pressure Sores: Staying in one position for an extended period, specifically in a wheelchair for long periods daily, can result in pressure sores. Also known as bed sores, they commonly occur when a person stays in one position for too long and can lead to dangerous complications.
- Internal Damage: Internal complications, like constipation and pneumonia, can be brought on or aggravated by lack of movement.
- Bone Fractures: The impact from falling out of a wheelchair to the ground can result in bone fractures.
Preventing Wheelchair Accidents and Injuries
Most of these injuries can be avoided if nursing home staff take proper precautions. By ensuring that wheelchairs are in working order at all times, properly monitoring patients using wheelchairs, locking wheelchairs correctly to prevent them from rolling, and keeping patients away from dangerous situations, many nursing home wheelchair accidents can be avoided.
When accidents do occur, nursing homes that understaff or fail to have proper wheelchair protocol and rules may be liable for damages.
Massachusetts Nursing Home Wheelchair and Transfer Accident Personal Injury Attorneys
If you believe your loved one suffered a broken bone or another serious injury as a result of negligence or carelessness by a nursing home staff member, medical professional, or caregiver, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your loved one. To find out, contact our experienced nursing home neglect lawyers today for a free consultation.
We offer a free, no-obligation legal consultation to help you understand your rights and the value of your case. Our personal injury law firm takes cases involving elder abuse and neglect. We offer legal service to clients in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Boston Massachusetts Elder Abuse and Nursing Home Neglect Personal Injury Attorneys. Free Consultation. No fee if no recovery.
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