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Limited mobility is a very common ailment as people get older and can happen for a number of reasons, including serious illness, injury, or simply growing old.

Typically, all nursing home staff are fully trained to help move residents securely, making sure they are always safe from harm, but also ensuring any lift or transfer is done properly, reducing the risk of harm. However, transfer or lifting injuries can happen when someone is being moved and these can be devastating- some resulting in death.

If your loved one lives in a nursing home or residential setting and has mobility restrictions, it will be the responsibility of their nursing home to make sure they’re moved safely every day following regulations and using the right equipment. The home will train staff adequately in moving their residents but sometimes accidents can happen that may lead to injury.

The injury attorneys at Thompson Law Firm in Phoenix have significant experience in helping clients who have experienced nursing home abuse, including transfer and lifting injuries.  Our offices are conveniently located in ChandlerPeoria, and North Phoenix, and we can meet in-person or over the phone or video call.  You can contact us for a free consultation, or read on to find out more.

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How Transfer and Lifting Injuries Happen

Many nursing home residents have limited mobility or are unable to move at all on their own, meaning they rely on nursing home staff to get in and out of bed, move to or from a chair, and to use the toilet or shower. As these activities happen several times a day, the likelihood of sustaining bed transfer or lifting injuries is ongoing.

The most common situations where lifting injuries can occur include:

  • Helping residents sit up in bed, or assisting them in and out of bed;
  • When staff help residents in and out of the bathtub or shower
  • Moving residents to other areas such as the dining area, or social rooms
  • Helping residents go to physical therapy sessions or other medical treatments
  • Moving residents back and forth from their bed to a wheelchair.

These types of ‘transfers’ require well trained and attentive nursing home staff, the right equipment, and enough time to move them without rushing. When nursing homes are short-staffed or don’t provide the proper training to staff, the risk of injury when moving residents becomes very high.

Lifting injuries such as falls tend to happen when nursing home staff don’t follow a resident’s individualized care plan,  try to move a resident with only one staff member when two are required, or simply rush a lift.

Even minor lifting injuries that happen when moving a resident can later develop into serious issues as elderly individuals are fragile, a little bump or scratch can turn into a fracture or bedsore. It’s very important nursing home staff act with caution when transferring or lifting elderly residents, monitoring or reporting any injuries that happen in the process.

Lifting Injuries Caused By A Mechanical Lift In Nursing Homes

Nursing homes regularly use mechanical lifts or Hoyer lifts to help to move and lift residents. Mechanical lifts can be an effective and safe way to move and lift disabled residents when used properly by trained staff. As residents are generally lifted off of the ground when using these systems, it’s vital the nursing home follow proper procedures and ensure that staff are properly trained to operate these machines.  

Lifting injuries while using these mechanical lifts can happen if the resident is not strapped in properly or not in the correct position. If a resident falls out of a lift, they could potentially suffer very serious injuries including broken or fractured bones, internal injuries, spinal injuries, or a traumatic brain injury. These types of injuries could prove fatal for elderly or disabled residents. 

Examples of When Lifting Injuries Happen

Nursing home staff fail to properly examine, inspect, or repair the lift system. Staff must inspect and repair the sling which can develop tears, holes, or frayed seams as a result of repeated daily use. 

Nursing home staff fail to follow and comply with the operator’s manual. Generally, most mechanical lift systems require two or more caregivers to operate the lift and ensure resident safety.

Nursing home staff use the wrong type /size sling. This could mean that the staff uses a sling that is too big, or not big enough, to lift a particular individual, causing a resident to fall out or the sling to break. Staff must be sure to check the weight limits for slings. It could also mean staff are using the wrong type of sling, such as a different manufacturer or configuration that does not function properly together. 

Nursing home staff fail to secure the sling properly. Sometimes, staff are in a rush or are short-staffed and might overlook something such as securing the loops of the sling. Failing to secure the loops of the sling to the hooks of the lift can result in the resident being unsupported and falling.

Nursing home staff fail to place the resident in the sling properly. If a resident is placed in the wrong position in the sling, they can easily become unbalanced and fall out as the machine begins lifting.

Nursing home staff operate the machine incorrectly. If the staff doesn’t use the equipment properly or move the machine improperly, residents can become unstable and fall. 

Nursing home staff fail to ensure the space around the machine is clear. If the machine is too close to other furniture or items on the floor, the sling can catch and turn or tilt the resident, leading to a fall. 

How Can Transfer and Lifting Injuries Be Avoided?

As with other injuries in a nursing home, transfer and lifting injuries that occur can easily be avoided if safety measures are followed. Types of precautions that reduce the risk of transfer or lifting injuries include:

  • Assessing each resident so a proper individualized care plan can be created and maintained, including transferring and lifting instructions
  • Continually training nursing home staff with guidance on the correct procedures and techniques of lifting and transferring residents
  • Making sure all equipment used to assist staff in lifting and transferring is properly inspected, maintained, and repaired
  • Routinely assessing residents so their individualized care plan and transferring and lifting instructions are up to date
  • Making nursing home staff aware of pre-existing conditions for residents that may require special transfer protocols that might impact the staff’s ability to transfer the resident normally

Nursing home staff should always be aware of each resident’s unique and individualized care plan when moving them as failing to ignore each resident’s own needs can result in the home being liable for any injuries caused.

When is a Nursing Home Liable for a Transfer or Lift Injury?

It’s important to note that not all injuries sustained during a transferring or lifting process will result in the nursing home is liable. Whilst nursing homes are required to act with a standard of care to ensure the safety and protection of their residents if an injury happened when lifting or transferring a resident, it’s important an investigation is then conducted. 

If you or your loved one has sustained an injury as the result of negligent transfer or lifting procedures, you may be entitled to compensation. Give our office a call today at (480) 634-7480 to see if we can help your case and answer any questions you may have.    

Our experienced attorneys offer comprehensive guidance on all personal injury matters by phone or video conference call.

Our team of lawyers work closely with their injury clients across Arizona, communicating clearly whilst offering reassurance and empathy through an often very difficult and emotional process. During the free consultation, our lawyers will discuss your concerns before creating a comprehensive plan for you, while also assessing the strength of your claim.

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