Automatic Door Safety Expert Evaluates Fatal Injuries Caused by Door Malfunction


Automatic Door Expert WitnessThis case involves an elderly man who was seriously and permanently injured by a malfunction in an automatic door at a hospital. The man was leaving the hospital after treatment from a minor renal condition when a nurse activated the automatic opening feature of the hospital’s exit doors. As the man was making his way through the doorway using a walker that the hospital had provided, the door suddenly closed without warning. The force of the door closing on the man was such that he was immediately knocked to the floor. As a result of the fall the man suffered a broken hip, which forced him to endure several weeks of recovery in the hospital marked by a number of complications. It was alleged that the speed of the closing door was far too high to be safe, and that the door also lacked a number of common safety features that would likely have prevented this accident from occurring. 

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Are you familiar with the installation and settings required for automatic doors in medical facilities?
  • 2. What makes you qualified to serve as an expert on this case?

Expert Witness Response E-013955

This angers me greatly. I have acted as Senior Director and Senior Project Manager at several hundred projects, both nationally and internationally, where auto-operator doors were provisioned under my care. There are many different ways to have doors auto-open and close, and great care and thought must be taken into account when dealing with the infirm and elderly and hospital locations. A simple device called a “REX/Stop” should have been on every single doorway at this facility. It is a simple device that  -within 2′ of the swing of the doors – prevents their opening and closing if there is detected an object in their path of travel. This REX/Stop is required under ASTM Codes in many States. Additionally, speed and force of closing and such is mandated under ASTM/UBC Codes as adhering to the American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers.

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