In the Courts: Resident Fall from Lift; Fault of Nonparties, Punitive Damages

November 22, 2013 | Aging Services Risk, Quality, & Safety Guidance

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In a case in which a resident fell from a lift, a nursing home’s operating company and administrative services company have been allowed by the court to designate a hospital and physician as potentially liable to them for damages, even though the plaintiff did not name them directly as defendants in the lawsuit. Before trial, the defendants also sought judgment in their favor regarding exemplary (i.e., punitive) damages but were not successful.

A few weeks before the incident, the maintenance director was asked to replace the safety clip on a specific mechanical lift. The safety clip was intended to keep the sling from sliding off the support bar. He replaced it with a clip from a different model of lift. On the day of the incident, a certified nursing assistant used the lift to move the resident from her bed to her wheelchair. The sling straps slid off the support bar, and the resident fell, sustaining serious injuries. She was taken to the hospital and died the next day. A bent safety clip was found...

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