This case involves an elderly male patient who was transported by ambulance after experiencing difficulty breathing during a local community center event. While being transported from the community center into the ambulance, the EMS personnel dropped the patient on his side. The impact of the fall caused the patient to break his hip. Subsequent complications prevented him from undergoing therapy to ambulate. The patient was bedridden for 6 weeks following the incident, during which time he developed pneumonia. The patient eventually succumbed to his pneumonia. It was alleged that the patient would never have required a prolonged hospital stay had he not been dropped by the EMS personnel. An EMS expert was sought to opine on the standard of care while transferring a patient.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. What are the necessary precautions needed while transferring a patient on a gurney to avoid falls?
Expert Witness Response E-060125
I am adequately qualified to opine on the standard of care for EMS transfer operations. EMS providers need to receive proper training regarding stretcher operations, and also need to be physically fit and well enough to engage in the transfer of patients. In addition, to ensure patient safety, all manufacturer recommended preventative maintenance must be performed on the stretcher. Precautions needed to prevent falls from an EMS stretcher can include investigating whether the stretcher was operated as instructed by the stretcher manufacturer: 2 points of contact by each EMS provider, whether the weight of patient was within range, whether the stretcher was moved in a linear fashion and not sideways, and whether proper body mechanics were used during lifting and/or movement. Additional questions to consider include: Was the stretcher being utilized on even ground? Were safer options for transportation of the patient available to the EMS providers? Were the EMS providers evaluated by the agency in the safe and effective operation of the stretcher at the time of hire? Were yearly competency checks performed?