Woman (84) impaled after falling from wheelchair
Published 20/01/2010 | 05:00
A CORONER will write to a wheelchair maker after an elderly woman was impaled on a peg when she fell from a chair while in hospital.
Mary Dalton, of Avonbeg Gardens, Tallaght, Dublin 24 needed surgery after the incident in Tallaght Hospital on October 14, 2009.
Mrs Dalton died on November 10, 2009.
The 84-year-old suffered horrific injuries after she fell on an upright peg on the footplate of the wheelchair. It was made from hard plastic and used to hold a heelstrap in place.
Ms Dalton's granddaughter, Sarah Dalton, who was present at the time of the incident, told an inquest the deceased complained and asked a nurse to take her belt off while she had her soup. "Later my nanny was saying she was slipping out of it and within seconds she was falling. I tried to grab her, but I fell with her," said Ms Dalton.
Mrs Dalton underwent surgery later that day. She also needed a colostomy bag to be fitted.
Professor Des O'Neill, who had been in charge of Mrs Dalton's care, told the hearing that although people believe it's a good idea to have someone strapped in, that it is uncomfortable and dangerous and that restraints have been kept to a minimum.
Chartered engineer Sean Walsh, who inspected the chair, said the removable rigid peg or pin was unsuitable in the light of the foreseeable risk of a wheelchair user falling against it. Questioned by coroner Dr Kieran Geraghty, Mr Walsh agreed that it was a design fault which could be corrected.
"The chair is still in use at the hospital, but without the peg and the heelstraps," the inquest heard.
Niall Harvey, general manager of chair manufacturers Invacare Ireland, said the company has not considered a change in design.
He told the inquest there are more than 500,000 chairs used worldwide and this is the first reported accident.
A verdict of accidental death was recorded.
Dr Geraghty said he would write to the manufacturers and recommend they review the peg use and that some of the rigidness be removed from it, following a recommendation by the jury.
The jury also called for the use of the chair to be fully explained to family members.