Skip to Content

Nursing Home Liability for Dropped Patients

November 23, 2015 | Category: Nursing Home Neglect/Abuse | Share

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) estimates that a significant number of nursing home, and assisted living, residents cannot walk without assistance. They often need help from the facility staff. This can be accomplished by using a wheelchair; however, some residents may need assistance when transitioning from a bed or chair into a wheelchair. 

Nursing and assisted living facilities may have procedures and rules covering the transfer of patients from one location to another location. Sometimes the procedures are ignored or may be forgotten because staff members may be hurried, inexperienced, untrained, or negligent. With some facilities minimizing staff, reducing training and failing to purchase the necessary equipment for patient safety, accidents happen.

There are different types of transfers which facilities use to move patients and which are occasions when patients may be dropped. The common ones are:

  • Moving to and from a bed to a wheelchair
  • Moving from a wheelchair into a shower or bath
  • Using a toilet
  • Moving from one chair to another chair
  • Using Hoyer lift falls – Hoyer lifts are often used for transfers. It is sometimes referred to as a patient lift. It uses a sling to help residents move from one place to another. Typically, Hoyer lifts are hung overhead from a ceiling, or they may be placed on the floor, according to the CDC. When using a Hoyer lift, many accidents happen when a staff member fails to cross the lift’s safety straps properly over the patient.

Also, should the patient be heavy or have very limited mobility, he/she may need two or more staff members to assist in the transfer.

When dropped, patients may suffer injuries, especially when older and frail. These injuries may include:

There is a very strict “duty to care” for residents of nursing, or assisted living facilities because of the services they provide. They are responsible for providing the services of supplying food, shelter, hygiene and medical care for each resident.

In general, nursing, and assisted, living homes may be held responsible for:

  • negligent training of staff
  • negligent hiring of staff, such as a failure to perform adequate background checks
  • failure to properly monitor staff
  • failure to provide adequate security
  • failure to provide for the daily necessities of living, such as food and water
  • medical neglect, such as failing to address medical needs or provide medication
  • failure to protect from health and safety hazards
  • imposition of unreasonable or dangerous physical restraints, and
  • intentional abuse by staff members.

In December 2014 four Connecticut nursing homes received fines by the Department of Public Health because of injuries and falls. One of the four, Avon Health Center was fined because a resident died six days after falling out of a mechanical lift and sling while being transferred from a wheelchair to a bed.

In Texas a lawsuit was filed on May 6, 2015 which alleges that a staff member of the University Nursing and Rehab Center dropped a resident which caused her to fracture both of her legs. The incident occurred in August 2014 when a staff member was helping the resident to the bathroom.

When it is shown that nursing, or assisted living, homes are negligent and that the negligence was a contributing factor to a resident’s injury or abuse, they may be held responsible.

“Dropping patients is serious. Should you or a loved one experience being dropped in a facility, contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.,” said Florida Nursing Home Negligence Attorney Randall Spivey.


Florida Nursing Home Negligence Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by less than 2 percent of Florida attorneys. He has handled over 1,500 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida. For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at  239. 337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839, or by email to  Visit  for more information. You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. in Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.


Contact Us


Spivey Law Firm Logo Spivey Law Firm 13400 Parker Commons Blvd.
Fort Myers, Florida 33912

(239) 337-7483

Free Consultation