Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Belfast care home fall 'had role' in pensioner death

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Injuries caused when a pensioner fell from a lifting hoist at a Belfast care home contributed to his death, a coroner said today.

Samuel Farr (84) a long-term resident at Stormont Clinic died in June 2008 days after he slipped out of a piece of specialist equipment being used to move him from a chair to his bed.

Mr Farr was extremely frail and in the final stages of life suffering from heart disease and osteoporosis at the time of the fall.

He was initially treated in hospital for cuts to his left eye and elbow but was discharged the same day back to the care home which is part of the Four Seasons group.

Two days later he was returned to the Ulster Hospital complaining of pain in his hip and was again discharged antibiotics for a chest infection.

The pensioner's condition deteriorated further and he was admitted to hospital but later died.

A post mortem examination found Mr Farr had a fractured hip and eight fractured ribs on his left side.

Coroner Jim Kitson told an inquest at Mays Chambers in Belfast the primary cause of death was pneumonia but that the fractures were contributory factors in the fatal sequence.

"I have some concerns that the rib fractures were not visible on June 9 yet were visible on June 14. I am satisfied on balance that they were caused by the fall on June 9. Even had the fractured hip been identified no operative intervention would have been administered at that time.

"I am satisfied that the rib fractures must have had some impact on Mr Farr's ability to breathe," said Mr Kitson.

The inquest heard how care assistant Babu Joseph had breached company policy when he moved Mr Farr on his own.

Mr Farr's family had also raised concerns about his personal hygiene however, the Coroner said there was no evidence of serious systemic failings.

Speaking afterwards, the pensioner's daughter Carolyn Reynolds said she was glad the inquest had finally brought closure.

"We knew that he was not going to have a long life expectancy but it just ended so abruptly. He was still able to communicate with us but after the fall he never spoke.

"It has been a long time and it is good to get closure."

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