Wheelchair-Bound Nursing Home Patients Must Be Properly Supervised To Avoid Injury

wheelchairAllowing a nursing home patient to sit comfortably in their wheelchair in a hall or perhaps in an outdoor area of the facility seems like a pretty innocent act– right?  I mean aren’t patients in wheelchairs entitled to a little fresh air or just hang out in an common area with other patients?

Despite the seemingly harmless act of sitting in a wheelchair, nursing home employees need to take steps to ensure the safety of these handicapped residents– even if they appear to be sitting idly.  Too often nursing home employees take for granted that wheelchair patients’ limited mobility puts them at increased risk for falls and collisions with their surroundings at the facility.

A recent situation involving a disabled nursing home patient made the news, after the woman sustained serious injuries in a fall from her wheelchair.  The woman’s injuries include: fracturing her collarbone, sustaining a closed head injury and suffering multiple bruises and abrasions.  The incident occurred at the Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania.

The incident gave rise to a lawsuit against the facility that alleges aides left the patients wheelchair unattended on a sidewalk that had a decline which caused the wheelchair to roll and crash into a nearby street.  Read more about this nursing home lawsuit involving an injury to a wheelchair-bound patient here.

The need to supervise patients in wheelchairs

Putting a patient in a wheelchair does not relieve nursing home staff of their duty to provide ongoing supervision.  Depending on the patients physical and mental capacities, they should provide a level of supervision appropriate to the individual.  In most cases, providing a safe environment for wheelchair patients includes:

  • Making sure locks on the wheels are engaged when the patient is sitting in one area or is incapable of appreciating harm
  • Parking wheelchairs in areas where the ground is level
  • Keeping patients in wheelchair away from congested areas when they could be pushed or bumped
  • Properly utilizing leg braces to make sure they do not have the patients legs in a manner where they could catch on things
  • Keeping patients away from fall hazards and unguarded stairways

Certainly, wheelchair-bound patients are entitled to freedoms, yet it remains the responsibility of nursing home staff to supervise them and assure that the wheelchair use does not put them at a heightened risk of harm to themselves or others.

For more information on nursing homes in Pennsylvania look here. For laws related to Pennsylvania nursing homes, look here.

Related Nursing Home Law Center LLC Blog Entries:

Nursing Home Worker Charged With Raping A Wheelchair-Bound Patient At Rhode Island Facility

Can a nursing home tie my dad to a wheelchair if he has had episodes of wandering around the facility?


0 responses to “Wheelchair-Bound Nursing Home Patients Must Be Properly Supervised To Avoid Injury”

  1. Chucksmack says:

    I was suspended pending investigation for the acts of an aggresive wheel chair bound patient that resides in a nursing facility. My position was “driver” and I was trained and applied the training daily to wheel chair patients that I took to various medical facilities for their appointments.
    I had reported her prior manipulations of the safety restraints in the past to my supervisor on incident report forms. But nothing was done to provide her with a personal assistant. I know other patients that I have transported over the 4 years of my occupation had them, including some from this particular Care center.
    My CERT training allowed me to respond to her actions in a completely safe and injury resistant manner which was validated by the authorities that my supervisor sent to the scene of her latest efforts to harm herself while I was driving the bus.
    I asked at the time why she did not have an assistant, and was told I would be suspended pending investigation. That means I do not get paid, so I stated I could not work under these financial restrictions, and would need to seek other sources of income because of their suspension.
    I am still looking for work 2 months later, and they refused my application for unemployment benefits which were reviewed and confirmed as they lied to the State about why I was terminated. It is up to an appeals judge to allow me these benefits, but clearly I can never get this job back as I still insist on this client or other abusive, aggressive ones to have an attendant with them at all times when riding with me to their appointments and /or back to their residence.
    Is there any other way I can obtain compensation for their negligence?

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