Nursing Home Patient Strangles to Death on Wheelchair Belt

A nursing home patient strangled to death on a safety belt after slipping down in her wheelchair.  The woman had been a patient at the facility for less than a week when she died.  An aide at the facility wheeled the patient to her room, positioned her too far away from the nurse call buzzer, and left her unattended overnight without checking on her.  The patient was found dead the next morning.  An investigation revealed the safety belt was improperly fitted on the patient.  Read more about the tragedy.

Restraints and safety devices, which sometimes include wheelchair belts and bedrails, are sometimes criticized as hazards themselves.  But are these devices really that dangerous in the absence of unsafe use?  I'm reminded of the old Smokey the Bear saying that "Matches don't start forest fires, people do."  Well, this patient's death is a painful reminder that sometimes restraints and safety devices don't kill, people do!