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November 17, 2017

11/1/2017 2:03:00 PM
Area nursing home fined in patient-lift case
Attorney representing United Methodist Village wants IDPH to drop case.
An area nursing home is contesting a fine levied by the Illinois Department of Public Health for an incident that occurred last spring, during which it was alleged that a patient was accidentally dropped.

According to an e-mail distributed by IDPH to Illinois media last week, United Methodist Village North Campus, 2101 James St., Lawrenceville, was fined $25,000 after the agency determined that a patient was dropped from a "Hoyer lift" in May. The incident was among those listed in the IDPH's quarterly report of nursing-home violations.

Nick Clark, an attorney from the office of Duane Morris LLP in Chicago, said the nursing home is contesting the ruling and has requested a hearing with IDPH. The hearing, Clark said, probably won't take place until some time in 2018. Until the matter is resolved, Clark said, the nursing home is not required to pay the fine.

When asked what his client would consider to be an acceptable resolution to the situation, Clark said it would take the IDPH dropping the case.

The infraction was classified as a "Class A" violation of the Nursing Home Care Act, according to the e-mail. The fine was levied in July. A "Class A" violation pertains to a condition in which there is "a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm" will result, or has resulted, according to the state agency.

A Hoyer lift is the brand name of a device that allows a person to be lifted and transferred with minimal physical effort.

According to the IDPH e-mail to media, the patient, an 86-year-old male, was presented at Lawrence County Memorial Hospital on May 2, with the chief complaints of pain in both knees, pain in the right hip and a report of a head injury. The patient was being transferred at the nursing home in a Hoyer lift when he fell and sustained injury, the IDPH said.

According to the e-mail, radiographs were taken at the Lawrenceville hospital May 2 which showed "osteopenia without definite evidence of acute fracture or dislocation" on the pelvis and right hip exam; and "no acute intracranial abnormalities" were found on the Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) scan of the head.

A finding of "comminuted distal femoral fracture just above the prosthesis, with posterior displacement and mild anterior angulation with the prostesis remaining intact" was found on a three-view x-ray of the right knee. Also, a "comminuted spiral fracture involving the distal femur, with mild posterior displacement anterior angulation, with the prosthesis remaining intact" was found on a three-view left knee x-ray exam.

The IDPH said the patient was transferred to a facility in Evansville, and on May 4, records indicate an "open reduction" surgery was done to realign the bone fractures into normal position. "Internal fixation" was also done on the patient, which includes the placement of steel rods, screws or plates that keep the fractured bone stable.

An incident report from United Methodist Village was filed with the IDPH on May 2, stating "one strap of the Hoyer sling was not properly fastened."  On this same document, a statement was made that "two staff were transferring from the bed to the wheelchair at the time of the fall."

The mechanical lift sling used in the transfer was examined on May 5, and all findings showed the loops on the straps were intact and no fraying or damage was noted. A new Hoyer lift was purchased as well as a new U-shaped, padded sling, for each resident. The nursing facility is in the process of training all staff on safe transfers with the Hoyer lift and the use of the new slings, according to the e-mail.

In an IDPH interview done May 5 with the director of nursing, it was stated that "as a result of our investigation, we determined the mechanical lift sling loop wasn't hooked on the lift hood properly, which caused the left side of the sling to give way which caused the patient to fall. Both Certified Nursing Assistants involved in the incident were disciplined and the lift was taken out of use."

The patient and his wife now live in another Lawrence County nursing facility.

Attempts to reach Paula McKnight, President and CEO of United Methodist Village North Campus, were unsuccessful.

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