Nursing Home Patient Dies After Fall from Mechanical Lift

A 64-year-old nursing home patient died days after she was permitted to fall from a mechanical lift at the nursing facility.  The patient struck her head in the fall and sustained a subdural hematoma (bleeding inside the skull).  The patient's death was reviewed by the county coroner, concluded her death resulted from internal injuries sustained in the fall.  In the months before the fall, the state department of health permitted the nursing home to stay open only on a "provisional license" because of several deficiencies with the care provided at the facility.  One of those deficiencies included the nursing home's lifting procedures, for which the nursing home's staff received extensive training.  Read more about the nursing home's problems.

Falls from mechanical lifts (frequently known by their trade names -- Hoyer, Vander, and Sabrina to name a few) are a frequent source of severe injury and death to nursing home patients.  Typically, the lifts, which are used to help nursing home staff transfer patients safely between beds and chairs, become safety hazards themselves because one staff person attempts to complete the transfer by herself even though a safe transfer requires the assistance of two staff.  In addition, staff is typically not well-trained on issues like ensuring the patient remains properly balanced in the lift's sling during the transfer, securing the patient's arms and hands before transfer, and smooth operation of the lift during transfer. 

For the staff of the above facility, citations from the state's department of health and "extensive training" on the safe use of mechanical lifts apparently never sank in.  Sad!  The death of this 64-year-old woman highlights the tragedy that results when safety devices aren't used safely.
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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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