91 year-old Helmi Laitinen was killed at a Cold Spring, Minnesota nursing home when her head became stuck between her mattress and the bed railing. The Assumption Home has since been cited for neglect in this nursing home abuse wrongful death case.
The mother of five accidentally lodged her neck between the mattress and the bed rail between a routine nursing check and when a staffer found her approximately 40 minutes later.
The Minnesota Department of Health stated that the nursing home failed to properly assess whether Laitinen required a bed rail, a tool that in the past has led to a surprising number of injuries and deaths. While bed rails often prevent falls, they also offer a risk of strangulation and entrapment, as Laitinen’s case proves. Laitinen was at the home because she suffered from dementia, and also had a history of falling. Laitinen suffered from chronic pain, limited mobility and weakness as well.
According to the home, Laitinan had fallen just a couple of months before she died. A worker found her sitting on the floor beside her bed, with her head and upper body pressed against the bed railing. State reports claimed that the home did not further asses her need for a bed rail after that accident, nor did they consider any other measures that could prevent her from falling.
Bed rail related deaths and injuries are not uncommon. More than 800 incidents, most of which involved deaths, were reported between 1985 and 2009. According to Dr. Steven Miles from the University of Minnesota, only about 15% of nursing home patients use bed rails now, as opposed to the 75% that used them in 1990. Miles’ research has found that the benefits of bedrails are outweighed significantly by the risk of injury. He also explained that bed rails are often used for patients who should not have them, particularly patients with limited mobility and dementia. Instead, good practice dictates that nursing homes should use concave mattresses, lower beds and motion alarms, as they are safer and do not present the high risk that bedrails do.
The home has been cited with neglect since Laitinen’s death. In response to the tragic incident, Assumption has since taken steps to prevent further accidents. The new safety measures were confirmed by state health inspectors in March when they visited the nursing home.
If a loved one has been neglected during their stay at a nursing home, and has suffered injuries or died from that mistreatment or abuse, please contact our experienced Boston, MA nursing home abuse lawyers, Boston personal injury lawyers, or Boston, MA wrongful death lawyers right now at 617-787-3700 or at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a free, confidential consultation to discuss the significant compensation you deserve from your nursing home negligence claim. Our expert Massachusetts elder neglect attorney and Boston, MA personal injury lawyers are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you.
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