No one seems to give much thought to transporting a nursing home patient in a wheelchair throughout the facility or outside on the facilities grounds. Just push the patient in the chair to where they need to go? Right?
Well, like most tasks, there really is quite a bit more to it than is originally apparent. In order for patients to be safely transported in wheelchairs staff need to take precautions to make sure that the patient arrives where they need to be in a safe manner.
Though not a well-publicized topic, injuries resulting from faulty wheelchairs and staff negligence in pushing the wheelchairs, are responsible for a steady stream of needless injuries to especially vulnerable people. Just recently, I read about a patient at a Minnesota nursing home who broke three toes when a staff member sloppily pushed the wheelchair and knocked her foot into a wall.
While the incident itself may seem like not much of a deal, the fact that that patient was forced to live with a broken bone due to the inattention of a staff member pushing their wheelchair is inexcusable. At facilities where patients are regularly transported via wheelchairs, the facility needs to train staff on the basics of wheelchair use including:
- Securing immobile or spastic patients
- Transferring patients into and out of the wheelchair
- Use of wheel locks
- Wheelchair lifts between floors and on vans
- Loading patients into elevators
- Use of braces and other propping devices for patients who may already have an injury
- Parking patients in level areas and away from ramps and stairways
As an injury lawyer, who has represented people who have suffered a variety of wheelchair related injuries, I frequently find little attention paid by facilities or staff to this essential— albeit somewhat mundane task. As more disabled patients begin to demand to live full and active lives— not just in the confines of their room— facilities need to make sure that their facilities and staff are equipped to safely care for patients in wheelchairs.
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