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Pennsylvania wrongful death blamed on hospital and bed maker

The children of a Pennsylvania hospital patient blame a Lehigh Valley medical facility and a specialty bed manufacturer for their father's death. The wrongful death claim stated the 88-year-old man strangled and suffocated when he became caught between the mattress and bed rail.

The filing states the hospital was guilty of negligence in the fatal accident for failing to respond quickly.

Court records say the elderly patient was admitted to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest for problems that developed during cardiac surgery recovery. The heart surgery was not performed in the same hospital where the patient died. The man was transferred from a nursing home to Lehigh Valley with suspected sepsis.

The patient occupied a bed made by co-defendant Kinetic Concepts of San Antonio. A 2011 state health department report said the hospital used the rental beds after the patient's death. The beds were placed out of service 13 days later when a second patient was involved in a nonfatal entrapment incident.

Hospital officials called the incident "tragic" but shifted blame to the bed manufacturer. The Pennsylvania Department of Health reported the Kinetics Concepts' specialty bed included entrapment warnings. The medical facility then offered to conduct special staff training and develop bed injury prevention policies.

The lawsuit claims the patient suffered because of carelessness. The bed contained no alarm system to warn the staff of an entrapment. The bed maker is also named in the wrongful death litigation for creating a "defective and dangerous" product.

A jury in a wrongful death case like this one might find both defendants negligent and divide liability between them. Damages are often awarded according to a percentage, where one defendant is responsible for a larger share of damages than another.

Part of providing quality health care is safeguarding patients' environments during a stay, treatment or surgery. Damages are awarded when medical facilities and staff members harm patients through poor choices.

Source: articles.mcall.com, ">Daughters of patient who died at LVH file lawsuit," Kevin Amerman, March 21, 2013

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