A Southern California nursing home has been fined $100,000 by the State after a patient died from a “preventable fall.”
According to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, the patient who died was in the nursing home, Aviara Healthcare Center, for physical therapy after hip surgery. The patient fell one time so the staff put an alarm on his hospital gown which informed the staff when the patient got out of bed. Even though the patient wore the alarm, no member of the Aviara staff responded when his alarm went off.
The patient got out of his bed and walked in the hallway. There were no handrails in the hallway and when the man started to stumble, he grabbed a lift device that was stored there. When he fell, the lift device fell on top of him. He died from the blunt-force trauma.
State health regulators said that the equipment was not to be stored in the hallway because it posed a hazard to patients.
Handrails in nursing homes are mandatory and heavy equipment such has Hoyer and mechanical lifts should be kept in a closet. Between 15% and 30% of nursing home falls are caused by “environmental hazards” as in this case. Wet floors, clutter, poor lighting and handrails are all types of environmental hazards. Failure to keep patients safe may be negligence and the family of a patient may file a suit to recover damages on their loved one’s behalf.