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Gait Belts: Use a Towel to Prevent Skin Tears

A common safety device in nursing homes, assisted living and home health care is the gait belt. A cloth strap connected with Velcro. The belt is designed to keep people from falling while walking or in the process of being transferred. It is usually put around the person’s waist or mid section. A caregiver will walk holding onto the belt.

Gait belts are not soft and smooth. We recently concluded a case for the family of a woman who was severely scratched by the belt. The scratch became a wound. The wound became infected and she ultimately died as a result.

A simple towel under the belt would have prevented the skin tear.