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Patient's death directly due to nursing home fall

AN elderly lady died from complications following a fall at a nursing home where she was left unattended on a commode while a nurse went to fetch her a glass of water.

Monica Hickey (88) fractured her right hip in the fall and underwent surgery the next day but died in hospital following complications.

Yesterday, an inquest into her death heard that Mrs Hickey had a history of falls and had fractured her hip this way before.

Carlos Bernardez, a staff nurse at Leeson Park Nursing Home in Dublin 6, had assisted Mrs Hickey to the commode on the morning of February 20 last. He left her seated there while he went to get her a glass of water.

When he was leaving the kitchen, which was opposite Mrs Hickey's room, he heard "a bang" and Mrs Hickey call out, Dublin City Coroner's Court heard.

He went to her assistance and saw her leg was rotated and she was in extreme pain.

He applied ice to the area and the elderly woman was taken by ambulance to St Vincent's Hospital.

Mr Bernardez told the inquest he thought perhaps that Mrs Hickey had tried to stand unassisted as the commode had not overturned.

The incident occured at 6.30am.

Mrs Hickey underwent surgery the following day to repair her fractured hip at the Dublin hospital. However, she became unwell with low blood pressure during the operation.

She died later that day.

A post-mortem found she died of fat embolism, a complication of long bone fractures where fat from bone marrow is released into the blood stream and travels to the lungs.

Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said her death was directly due to the fall at Leeson Park Nursing Home.

He recorded a verdict of accidental death due to a fall.

hnews@herald.ie