RISKAlert # 843 -March 31, 2016
Maine patient, hospitalized with a severe brain injury after a motorcycle accident, climbed out of a 6th floor window in the hospital and fell to his death at 5:10 pm on March 29th.
Paul Cady, 43, from Hollis, Maine, had entered the hospital on March 9th, after a motorcycle accident, and had been in a medically-induced coma for a period of time following the accident. His family emphatically stated he was not trying to commit suicide, but that he was only trying to get home to his family.
In Maine, like other states, newly constructed hospital facilities must meet the American Institute of Architects 2006 general guidelines for hospitals, which doesn’t require windows in patient rooms to be operable. However, if windows in patient rooms are able to be opened, “operation of such windows shall be restricted to inhibit possible escape or suicide,” the standards state.
Recently, hospitals have recognized the value of fresh air and ventilation, but as a Life Safety issue, the amount that the window opens has been regulated by CMS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. Studies that shown that windows provide a positive effect on both healing and on patient satisfaction, whether the windows can be opened or not.
Registered Architect Gene Wells of Marshall Erdman & Associates, a leading national health care design and construction firm, offers the following: “In today’s hospital, huge efforts are being made to create a healing environment for patients and their families. A non-institutional approach lessens the stress level for people who already have too much stress and leads to better outcomes. Patient’s rooms, in particular, are often designed to reflect local culture, connect with nature or create a hotel-like environment. Operable windows can be an integral part of this atmosphere.”
1. Patient falls from hospital windows are extremely rare in the United States.
2. This type of incident can create a potential liability issue for healthcare organizations.
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