Miami, FL- Many nursing home residents are immobile or unable to walk so they require the assistance of the home’s staff. Mechanical lifts can be an invaluable tool for a facility and is supposed to prevent falls, but when this equipment is not operated properly or repaired as necessary a resident can be seriously injured and in some cases, they can die as result of those injuries.

The death of a Minnesota woman highlights the risks an elderly nursing home resident faces when a facility fails to repair their equipment or properly care for their equipment and patients.

This week, the Minnesota Department of Health fine Maple Manor Health Care & Rehabilitation Center is Rochester, M.N., after they found the facility negligent for failing to maintain one of their mechanical lifts.
The citation arose out of an incident involving a female resident who fell four feet onto the floor after the harness on the lift slipped. The safety catch on the harness, which secures it to the lift frame, was missing, the Star Tribune reported.

The resident suffered a laceration to her scalp and spinal fractures. As a result of her fall the woman died five days later.

Despite their ongoing problems with safety catches on their lifts, Maple Manor failed to ensure they were maintained or repaired and was cited by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Mechanical lifts are standard equipment in most nursing homes are considered to be a safe alternative for moving and lifting impaired residents who are too heavy or have special instructions in their care plans. Nursing homes typically have either a stand lift or a total lift for their staff to use.

A stand lift is utilized when a resident needs help getting up from a seated position whereas a total lift is used when a resident requires assistance moving from a lying position to a sitting position. Only one person is required to assist with a stand lift, but total lifts requires the assistance of two staff members.

Even though these transfers are intended to be helpful and prevent injuries there are risks associated with this equipment. Falls often occur as result of poor staffing when an employee decides to transfer a resident without another staff member present. A dangerous fall can also occur as a result of malfunctioning equipment.

Knowing that an elderly loved one suffered because the staff were not properly trained or a facility failed to ensure the safety of their equipment is so devastating for a family. We place our loved ones in a nursing home to make certain they won’t harm themselves. When a facility fails to meet their obligations to a resident, the victim and their family can hold them accountable for their negligence.

After a nursing home abuse victim notifies the relevant authorities in their state, their next step should be to contact a nursing home abuse attorney to determine if they are eligible for compensation. If they are, a nursing home negligence attorney can begin collecting evidence and building a strong personal injury or wrongful death claim.