There are approximately 1.3 million Americans living in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, with about 80% of these residents using a wheelchair at least once a day. While wheelchairs are meant to assist in mobility for these residents, when used improperly or not supervised, these devices can lead to severe injuries. It is the responsibility of those caring for nursing home residents to ensure that they are kept safe from preventable injuries, including those that occur while using a wheelchair.
Misuse Of Wheelchairs In Nursing Homes
There is concern over the misuse and overuse of wheelchairs in nursing homes. While many may need to use a wheelchair for mobility, others are capable of walking and are put in wheelchairs for the ease of the nursing home staff and to prevent liability for falls. Unfortunately, instead of preventing injuries, too much time spent sitting can have other ill effects on the elderly including:
- Pressure sores. Sitting in one position in a wheelchair, especially without proper padding, can cause painful and dangerous pressure sores.
- Internal issues. Lack of movement can increase risk for constipation, urinary tract infections, pneumonia and other internal issues.
- Isolation and decreased quality of life. For those who are restricted to a wheelchair that still have mobility, even limited, can feel isolated when forced to use a wheelchair.
- Physical injuries. The muscle strength needed to propel a wheelchair can lead to shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, strained backs and other types of muscle fatigue.
Although wheelchairs are needed, the overuse of these devices can cause more harm than good for those who could benefit from the exercise of walking, even assisted. When the best interests of the nursing home are put in front of the best interests of the patients, there is rarely a positive outcome.
Injuries That Commonly Occur In Wheelchairs
For those that must be confined to a wheelchair due to physical disabilities, there are other concerns for safety within nursing homes. In addition to pressure sores, internal, muscle and other injuries from spending so much time in a wheelchair, there are other dangers and risks as well that are preventable, yet still commonly occur in nursing homes. Some of the most common causes of wheelchair injuries that are caused by poor judgment and negligence in nursing homes are:
- Tip-over or fall. The most common type of accident in a wheelchair is a tip-over or fall from a wheelchair. If patients are properly supervised and assisted, this should not be allowed to happen.
- Poor maintenance. Wheelchairs that are not maintained can cause harm. Worn out padding, brakes and other issues can lead to injuries.
- Improper transfers. One of the most dangerous actions for patients is the transfer into and out of the wheelchair. Nursing home staff can forget to set the brake, drop the patient or get fingers or other appendages caught in the wheelchair during the transfer.
- Motor vehicle accidents. Wheelchair confined patients that need transport can be serious injured on the ramps, lifts and in the transport vehicle when safety precautions are not adhered to. Fatal injuries have occurred when wheelchairs are not locked into place and belts are not fastened to prevent the patient from falling from the wheelchair if the vehicle makes an abrupt halt.
The sad fact is that many elderly and other nursing home residents are needlessly injured due to wheelchair misuse and negligence in these facilities. The majority of these accidents and injuries are preventable through proper training and safety techniques.
Was your loved hurt in a wheelchair accident in a nursing home?
The majority of incidents involving wheelchair accidents in nursing homes involve negligence on the part of the nursing home staff or attendants. In these situations, a legal claim or lawsuit may be pursued against the facility where the incident occurred to recover compensation for related medical expenses and pain. Our nursing home negligence attorneys have successfully recovered compensation for patients seriously injured in wheelchair accidents. Allow us to to the same for you. 888-424-5757
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