Perhaps the most basic safeguard nursing homes and hospitals can implement with wheelchair patients is the utilization of wheel-locks. Too often, physically disabled patients are simply propped up in their wheelchairs with the assumption that they face little chance of getting injured.
However, as I have discussed before, wheelchair patients must be properly supervised in order to minimize the chance of accidental injury due to the rolling of a chair or falling from it. The lack of supervision appears to have played a role in the case of a Connecticut nursing home patient who literally rolled from the facility to his death.
The incident involved an 88-year-old man with dementia at Bishops Corner Skilled & Nursing Rehabilitation. According to news reports of the incident, the man rolled from the front of the facility, down more than 40-foot hill, through a fence, before hitting his head on concrete. The man was pronounced dead shortly after the incident at a local hospital as a result of the head injury he sustained in the incident.
Making this tragic situation even worse is the fact that the man had tried to leave the facility earlier in the morning. Staff were notified of the incident when the door alarm went off. After the incident, the staff imposed a 15-minute check system to confirm the man remained in the facility. I guess this check system failed?
Bishops Corner is a 130-bed skilled nursing facility that is owned by Genesis Healthcare. Medicare rates the facility two out of five stars, putting the facility in the ‘below average’ category.
Nursing home where man died in wheelchair accident given “below average” rating, The Middletown Press September 1, 2010
Wheelchair-related Falls: Current Evidence and Directions for Improved Quality Care
Gavin-Dreschnack, Deborah PhD; Nelson, Audrey PhD, RN, FAAN; Fitzgerald, Shirley PhD; Harrow, Jeffrey MD, PhD; Sanchez-Anguiano, Aurora MD, PhD; Ahmed, Shahbaz MD, MPH; Powell-Cope, Gail PhD, RN