When it comes to caring for disabled nursing home patients, a momentary diversion by staff member can has disastrous consequences for the patient. Many disabled patients are considered to by ‘full assist’ patients meaning that staff are to continuously look after them while they are under their care. Where ever the patient goes, the staff member should shadow.
Following orders in the plan of care
Despite patient charts full of notes and physicians orders to provide full assistance to patients, I regularly see instances when staff become drowsy, distracted or downright disregard the instructions relating to the type of care they are to provide. These missteps, even momentarily, frequently result in a serious injury to a patient when they fall or is dropped by staff.
Diversions in a litigation setting
Because these incidents happen so quickly (and the patient is unlikely to recall what exactly happened), many of these episodes are denied or vigorously defended by nursing homes. Similarly, I’ve seen nursing home attempt to blame a patient for a resulting injury as they allege that the person quickly moved without warning the staff member– never mind that that is likely why the patient required full assistance in the first place.
By the reports of a recent verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit involving a nursing home who fell following a shower when her attendant was in the room, I assume their was little uncertainty was to what the staff member was to be doing in terms of assisting the patient. According to news reports, a Jackson County, Missouri jury awarded $1.5 million to the family of a deceased nursing home patient who passed away after fracturing her hip in the manner described above.
In addition to the negligence attributed to the facilities failure to provide needed assistance to the patient whom was deemed to be a ‘high fall risk’ the facility likely compounded their exposure– not to mention the woman’s pain– when they failed to summon any medical assistance for 19 hours following the incident.
Protecting patients from falls– regardless of where they go
Honoring an individuals privacy is significant, but when it comes to safeguarding the individual from harm staff must put aside such assumptions and look after patients whom are deemed to be a significant fall risk during personal activities such as:
For families, when it comes to episodes of patient injury occurring during these ‘personal’ moments, don’t make the assumption that staff need to ‘back off’. Particularly in situations where patients may be uncomfortable or strained, it is even more imperative that staff provide the level of care that the patient requires.