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Patient safety alert – Risk of death and serious harm by falling from hoists

A joint patient safety alert has been issued by NHS England and the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to highlight the risk of falls from hoists.

The alert has been issued following patient safety incident reports that suggest existing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice on safely using hoists and providing training had not always been reliably and systematically implemented.

A National Reporting and Learning System (NRLS) search identified that there have been 15 incidents in a recent four year period where a person has come to harm through falls from hoists, including one death and three severe injuries.

The reported incidents occurred in acute hospitals, care homes and individuals’ own homes. Problems described potentially affect mechanical and electrical hoists, free-standing, ceiling or wall-mounted hoists, and hoists used as bathing aids and standing aids.

Providers of NHS funded care have been asked to raise awareness of the risk amongst staff and to ensure they have an action plan underway to reduce the risk of these incidents occurring.

Dr Mike Durkin, NHS England Director of Patient Safety, said: “All patients expect and deserve only the best possible care and each of these incidents is unacceptable. It is thanks to the staff that have brought this issue to our attention by reporting incidents to national reporting systems that we have been able to raise awareness of this risk through a Patient Safety Alert. It is vital that all national advice around operating hoists is adhered to and that only staff and carers with training appropriate to the type of hoist and condition of the person being lifted are permitted to operate them. By issuing this alert we are asking local organisations to ensure steps are taken to further prevent these kinds of incidents from occurring.”

Read the full Patient safety alert – Risk of death and serious harm by falling from hoists.

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