Ballad Health implements safety changes after fatal patient drop

A man who died in 2018 after being dropped in the operating room has led to immediate and long-term improvements at Johnson City, Tenn.-based Ballad Health, according to WJHL.

Eighty--year-old Harold Landers was dropped during hip repair surgery at Laughlin Memorial Hospital, now called Greeneville (Tenn.) Community Hospital East. Mr. Landers reportedly slipped off a bed and broke his neck while staff members were preparing to transfer him to a recovery room after his surgery. He died eight days later from the injuries, WJHL reports.

A Ballad Health executive said the incident prompted same-day action at Laughlin Hospital, including staff meetings and retraining, according to WJHL. Mark Patterson, MD, CMO at Laughlin at the time, told WJHL he implemented a new policy for communicating which staff member has hands-on oversight of a patient at all times.

A CMS investigation concluded that the hospital "failed to follow facility policy" and "failed to ensure a safe environment during a surgical procedure," WJHL reports. CMS removed the hospital's previously instituted "immediate jeopardy" status the same day Mr. Landers died, since Ballad Health submitted a comprehensive correction plan, according to WJHL.

Ballad Health and the Landers family reached a confidential settlement Sept. 12. The family released a statement saying, "The Landers family believes Ballad Health has taken our situation very seriously, and we appreciate the steps Ballad Health has taken to make sure all their employees and doctors can learn from this incident," according to WJHL.

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