“SHE WOULD have been safer at home.”
Those were the words from the grieving family of great-grandmother Anna Hanlon, who died after hospital staff failed to identify she was at a high risk of falling.
Southampton Coroner’s Court heard that the 93-year-old, from Harefield, suffered severe head injuries after a fall from her hospital bed at Southampton General Hospital and died hours later.
Hospital bosses have apologised to her family for the “shortfalls” in care that they admitted she received but insist that action has been taken to prevent it happening again.
The inquest heard that despite suffering from several minor falls before her admission to hospital, it was admitted that she was not identified as a high enough risk of falling.
Even when she had attempted to get out of bed on the previous two nights of her admission, no action was taken to prevent a fall, such as putting her in a lower bed.
Juliet Pearce, patient safety manager for the hospital trust, said: “She wasn’t assessed appropriately. She wasn’t identified as a high enough risk. If she had, there were a range of options open to the nursing team.”
It was on her third night in hospital that she tried to get out of bed to go to the toilet when she fell and suffered a serious blow to her head. She was discovered unconscious in bed several hours later.
A letter from the chief executive’s office read out by the coroner said: “I am sorry for the shortfalls and the care Mrs Hanlon received. I offer my full and unreserved apologies for the omissions.”
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Keith Wiseman, said: “In this particular case it was accepted that this was a fall that could hopefully have been avoided.”
Speaking after the inquest Mrs Hanlon’s granddaughter Rachael Cass said: “We know that the fall was an accident but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
“She would have been safer at home and that is what really upsets us.”
Mrs Hanlon’s daughter, Monica Cass, added: “I really hope it has learned lessons from this.”
Since Mrs Hanlon’s death, the hospital trust has begun trialling nonslip socks and sensor mats for beds which alert staff when a patient has moved, plus more low-profile beds.