On February 4, 2013, an obese Louisiana woman filed a medical malpractice claim against a Louisiana medical clinic after she was dropped by clinic personnel while she was being transferred from a wheelchair to her bed. When she fell, her left leg ended up under her body, causing her left fibula to fracture. The Louisiana medical malpractice lawsuit alleges that her caregivers failed to exercise the required level of care in treating the woman, failed to protect her from dangers, failed to exercise proper transfer techniques under the circumstances, and failed to provide adequate staff to care for the woman. The woman’s medical malpractice lawsuit seeks unspecified damages for her mental anguish, her emotional pain and suffering, and the woman’s physical scarring and medical expenses.
The following is considered proper technique for transferring a patient from a wheelchair to a bed or exam table:
Position the wheelchair next to the exam table or bed with one of the arm rests at an angle to the side of the exam table/bed.
Lock the wheelchair on both sides.
Adjust the height of the two surfaces as even as possible.
Conduct the transfer towards patient’s stronger side.
Ask patient to scoot to the edge of the wheelchair and push on the arms of the chair.
Stand between the patient knees and place hands on back of the patient.
Stand with knees bent while maintaining the spine in neutral position.
Assist the patient to stand, using your knee to block the patient’s knee. Ask patient to “pivot” or take side step toward the exam table/bed.
Once the patient is standing, ask the patient to place his/her arms in the your elbows.
If necessary, be prepared to block the patient’s knee.
Ask patient to reach for the surface of the exam table/bed.
Lower the patient to the surface.
Useful suggestion: Make a “gait belt” out of a sheet by twisting it and wrap it around the patient. This will create a “handle” on the patient.
The following “don’ts” are important to reduce the risk of falls and injuries:
Do not position the wheelchair too far from the exam table, bed, or the receiving surface.
Do not position the wheelchair so that the patient faces the side or the foot of the exam table, bed, or the receiving surface.
Do not allow or ask patient to wrap their arms around your neck.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that the CDC reports that falls are the leading cause of injury-related deaths in the U.S. for adults 65 and older and that falls are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries and hospital admissions for trauma. In acute and rehabilitation hospitals, falls resulting in some injury range from 30% to 51% and falls resulting in fracture range from 1% to 3%. Falls are associated with increased length of hospital stays, an increased amount of health care resources, and poorer health outcomes when specific fractures occur. Soft tissue injuries or minor fractures can cause significant functional impairment, pain, and distress. Even “minor” falls can prompt the older person to fear falling, causing him/her to limit activity, resulting in loss of strength and independence.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of medical malpractice in Louisiana or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek the advice of a Louisiana medical malpractice attorney or a medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may be willing to assist you with your medical malpractice claim.
Click here to visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in Louisiana or in your state who may agree to investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and file a medical malpractice lawsuit on your behalf, if appropriate, or call us on our toll-free telephone line: 800-295-3959.
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