Reposted from a story in the australian news paper by: Margaret Scheikowski From: AAP August 14, 2013 5:56PM
AN elderly nursing home resident died when she was strangled by the seat belt on her wheelchair, an inquest has been told.
Ruth Ann Dicker, 83, had previously been seen trying to remove herself from the wheelchair while strapped in, counsel assisting, Amy Cacas, said on Wednesday.
South Australia’s State Coroner Mark Johns is conducting the inquest into the death of Mrs Dicker who died on July 10, 2011 in her room at the Holly Residential Care Centre in Adelaide.
Forensic pathologist Dr Karen Heath told the inquest the cause of death was neck compression from a wheelchair restraint strap.
Ms Cacas said Mrs Dicker had been in the home since February 2007 and her medical conditions included Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
In the 12 months before she died, she had more than 50 falls and was regularly found sitting on the floor, which was attributed to her placing herself there rather than having fallen.
In December 2010, her family was told of the need for her to have a seat belt restraint and her son signed the necessary form.
The seat belt was not fixed to the centre’s wheelchair, but the strap was passed around Mrs Dicker and clipped at the back of the wheelchair, Ms Cacas said.
The centre’s notes showed that a nurse put music on Mrs Dicker’s CD player at 2.15 pm on July 10.
“At this time Mrs Dicker was sitting properly in her wheelchair and looking out the window,” Ms Cacas said.
The next recorded sighting was at 4.25pm when a personal care worker found her sitting on the floor and the seat belt around her throat.
The worker described the belt as being quite tight and apparently strangling her.
Ms Cacas noted the centre’s lawyer intending calling evidence to show there were other sightings of Mrs Dicker between 2.15 and 4.25pm.
Dr Heath said she could not give exact times for Mrs Dicker, but the published literature indicated that from the time of a neck compression to unconsciousness was around 10 seconds.
The time from unconsciousness to death was around 10 minutes, she added.
The inquest is continuing