Many Pennsylvania residents assume that nursing home abuse is limited to neglect on the part of the nursing home’s staff. However, abuse, as well as nursing home deaths, also can happen when the institution fails to properly maintain its facilities or equipment. Lately, there has been a growing concern about the safety of mechanical lifts in nursing homes. A recent incident demonstrates how dangerous these lifts can be after a resident was injured and eventually died after falling off a lift.
The fatal incident occurred last March in an 80-bed capacity nursing home. The resident was being transferred from a bed to a wheelchair with the use of a mechanical lift. However, the harness slid, causing the resident, who suffered from dementia, to fall four feet to the ground. The resident sustained a lacerated scalp and a fractured spine. The resident died five days later. An investigation showed that the safety catch, which secures the harness, was missing from the lift at the time of the accident. The nursing home was found liable for the death.
This death involving the lift is not an isolated incident. Across the country, the misuse of mechanical lifts has led to various injuries and deaths of nursing home residents. As simple as the devices are, they need to be operated and maintained properly. The elderly and frail residents need to be strapped correctly before the machine is activated. Safety latches also should be present. Otherwise, a person on the harness will probably fall.
Many nursing home residents are not only elderly, but physically frail, and nursing home staff should always take extra precautions when moving them or providing for their needs. Cutting corners can cost the life of a resident. In such a situation, family members of a nursing home resident in Pennsylvania who has been victimized by negligence can file a wrongful death lawsuit against the nursing home. The lawsuit can hold the institution accountable and potentially offer restitution to the family for its losses.
Source: Star Tribune, “Rochester nursing home at fault in resident’s fatal fall from lift,” Chris Serres, June 12, 2014