Robert Benowitz, EE ::::
Case Description: Transport personnel left plaintiff, a patient, seated in a wheelchair away from the nurse call button in a rehabilitation facility. The wheelchair occupying the plaintiff was not equipped with a seat belt or foot rests. The patient’s feet did not reach the floor. While the plaintiff was adjusting her position in the wheelchair, the wheelchair tipped over. The plaintiff suffered a shoulder injury, which required surgery.
Expert Analysis: The lack of a seat belt, as well as appropriately fitted foot-rests, allowed the patient to move so that her center of gravity was in front of the wheelchair’s caster wheel. This caused the wheelchair to tilt forward, dropping the patient to the floor. The expert concluded, after reviewing the Joint Commission policies, as well as other applicable standards, that the rehabilitation facility failed to provide a safe wheelchair, as well as failed to properly train personnel as to safe practices for transporting patients in wheelchairs.
Conclusion: Case settled.