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Safety alert issued to NHS on patient falls from hoists


A patient safety alert has been sent to NHS organisations in England surrounding the “risk of death and serious harm” by falling from hoists.

Nearly 100 safety incidents, involving several deaths, have been reported in recent years resulting from the use of hoists, said the alert from NHS England and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.

“Identify if incidents involving falls from hoists have occurred or could occur in your organisation”

Patient Safety Alert

A search by the National Reporting and Learning System identified 15 occurrences in a four-year period where a person had come to harm through falls from hoists, including one death and three severe injuries.

Injuries included hip, leg and ankle fractures, head injuries, lacerations and haematomas. The incidents occurred in acute hospitals, care homes and individuals’ own homes.

The problems described potentially affect mechanical and electrical hoists, free-standing, ceiling or wall-mounted hoists, and hoists used as bathing aids and standing aids.

Meanwhile, the MHRA has received 78 reports, including three deaths and nine incidents resulting in severe injury.

A number of hoist-related incidents were also reported to the Health and Safety Executive, the alert noted.

Analysis of the MHRA and NRLS data revealed “similar themes”, according to the alert, which was sent on 28 October.

Themes included a failure to follow the correct manual handling procedures, including instructions on the number of carers required to perform a manoeuvre and inadequate assessment of service users’ ability/disability and selection of equipment.

In addition, it highlighted sling straps being incorrectly fitted to the hoist or the person being lifted, the wrong size or type of sling being used and unclear responsibility for equipment maintenance.

The alert instructs NHS providers to identify if incidents involving falls from hoists have occurred or could occur in their organisation, and consider any “immediate action” needed to be taken locally and ensure an action plan was underway to reduce the risk of such incidents occurring in future.

Organisations have been given until 9 December to comply with the checks.

A number of similar alerts have been issued over the last decade.


Readers' comments (5)

  • Interesting

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  • This should be sent Social Services as they often won't fund 2 people for hoisting.

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  • Another safety issue which many will not admit is the using of slings for more than one client in institutions (infection risk).

    There is a safe alternative to hoists that does not involve manual lifting either: the Agile Life bed-transfer system. One caregiver can boost a client in bed or transfer a client in and out of bed (to a docked wheelchair) with the touch of a button. The wheelchair also converts to a commode.

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  • C. Dunster | 3-Nov-2015 6:09 pm

    Please can I have 32 of these for the nursing home that I work in and please can you pay for them.

    Thank you

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  • Bad Training, I would suggest, all equipment needs training, there was a H& S case lately where the were the corect number of Nurses (2No.) and still the patient died (the lift was found in perfect working order). A full training was provided but it appears the staff were unreceptive. As they say "you can take a horse to water but you cannot make it drink". Apathy can be a problem

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