Bed rails are often used in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities as a safety precaution to help prevent patients from falling out of bed. However, there are hidden dangers associated with using bed rails. Injuries can include strangulation, suffocation, and broken arms and legs, and even death. Because of these dangers, bed rails require a specific physicians order for their use.
Bed rails are used much more often in hospitals than any other type of facility. This is because there is much more monitoring of patients in hospitals and the population is usually much younger. On the other hand, in nursing homes and assisted living facilities the population is much older and less mobile. As a result, there are many more dangers in using bed rails in these facilities. Many of these facilities still use outdated, or even illegal bed rails systems. In fact the nursing home and assisted living facility staff actually consider bed rails to be physical restraints. In many cases residents are severely injured from the use of these bed rails when the facility fails to follow the proper protocol for using any type of bed restraint system.
Has your loved one been injured or passed away in a nursing home by bed rail entrapment? Talk to a Florida bed rail entrapment injury and death lawyer from Distasio Law Firm today. Our compassionate nursing home abuse attorneys are here to help.
An Experienced Attorney Can Help When Your Loved One Is Injured in a Nursing Home by Bed Rail Entrapment
Our experienced bed rail entrapment injury lawyers in Florida are here to fight for the justice that your family is owed. We can handle all aspects of your nursing home abuse claim and pursue full and fair compensation for medical expenses and other losses through a negotiated pre-trial agreement, or via a jury trial if it comes to that.
Get in touch with the law firm that fights for the elderly who have been harmed while in skilled nursing care today by calling us 24/7, or via our contact form to arrange a free consultation—we promise to keep all conversations secure and confidential. And you don’t worry about legal bills: We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means we only charge an attorney’s fee when we successfully resolve your nursing home injury case.
CPSC and FDA Warn of Risks from Bed Rails
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been warning of the dangers of bed rail entrapment since at least 1995. At that time the FDA concluded the risks are highest for elderly patients because of problems with memory, mobility, and multiple medications. Elderly patients with the following conditions are most at risk:
- Alzheimer’s, Dementia, or memory problems
- Paralysis, Parkinson’s disease, or limited mobility
- Taking multiple medications
These patients are most likely to fall while trying to climb over the bed rails and or become entrapped between the rail and the bed.
CPSC urges consumers to immediately stop use, disassemble, and dispose of the following bed rails and report any related incidents to the agency at www.SaferProducts.gov:
- Freedom Grip (model 501)
- Freedom Grip Plus (model 502)
- Freedom Grip Travel (model 505)
- Reversible Slant Rail (model 600)
- Transfer Handle (model 2025)
- Easy Adjustable (model 2500)
- 30-Inch Security Bed Rail, single-sided (model 5075)
- 30-Inch Security Bed Rail – Extra Tall, single-sided (model 5075T)
- 30-Inch Security Bed Rail, double-sided (model 5085)
- 30-Inch Security Bed Rail – Extra Tall, double-sided (model 5085T)
Injuries Caused by Bed Rail and Side Rail Entrapments for the Elderly
Elderly patients can be injured by bed rails in many different ways. According to the CPSC and the FDA, the most likely injuries include:
- Strangling or suffocating entrapment risk when patients are caught between rails, between the bed rails and mattress, between split bed rails, or between the rail and side edge of the headboard.
- Risk of physical injury when part of their body is caught between rails or between the bed rails and mattress, especially to their neck, chest, and head.
- Broken, fractured, bruised, or lacerated arms and legs.
- Head injury when residents hit their heads against the side edge of the head/footboard or bed rails.
- Increased risk of falls often leads to broken bones and head trauma while trying to get past the rails.
- Skin bruising, cuts, and scrapes from bed rails.
- Risk of being physically restrained to or with bed rails.
To ensure nursing home bed safety and reduce the likelihood of entrapment, the FDA provides nurses and other long-term care facility staff with online access to its Hospital Bed System Dimensional and Assessment Guidance. This guidance offers images of different types of potential entrapments that nursing home personnel can use for in-person cursory inspections. Our Florida bed rail injury attorneys encourage all hospitals and care facilities to regularly check mattresses and beds to help protect their residents’ safety.
Preventing Bed Rail Entrapment Injuries and Death
When making the decision to use bed rails, nursing facilities must consider all of a resident’s physical and mental abilities among other medical factors. Though beds rails can be helpful in providing support while entering and exiting beds, they may also lead to serious entrapment injuries if used when unnecessary or as a restraint. For this reason, Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) has implemented safety guidelines for the use of bed rails and suggest not using them as restraints unless the individual’s medical condition clearly necessitates their usage.
Additionally, any incidents or findings regarding their usage need to be promptly and accurately documented; failure to do so carries the risk of health citations on Medicare inspections. When using bed rails is appropriate and necessary as part of an individual’s treatment plan, it should serve only to enhance their care.
Bed Rail Entrapment Statistics
Statistics show that elderly residents are more likely to die from entrapment in a bed rail system.
- Portable bed rail entrapments reported between 1995 and 2018 were 160, with 155 deaths from the use of these portable bed rails.
- 803 incidents of patients & residents caught, trapped, entangled, or strangled in beds with rails were reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 1995 and 2018
- Of these 803 incidents, 480 people died. 138 had non-fatal injuries, and 185 were saved in time by a staff member.
- Consumer Products Safety Commission reports show 143 deaths from bed rail entrapments between 2013 and 2020.
Bed Rail Entrapment Injury And Death FAQs
What Are Common Bed Rail Accidents that Cause Injury?
Bed rail entrapment is a hazard that primarily affects elderly and mobility-challenged individuals. Due to improperly fitted or installed bed rails or grab bars, the victim could become quickly trapped in the gaps between the bed frame and the side rails or rail supports. It’s important for nursing homes to make sure that these components are properly fitted to prevent entrapment accidents.
Residents can suffer bed entrapment injuries:
- Between the rail supports or the bars of the split-side rails
- Between the separate side rails
- Locked between the mattress and the rail on the side
- Stuck between the footboard, the side rail, or the head rail
- Between the end of the rail and the side edge of the headboard
- When bed rails are used with an incorrect mattress
- When bed rails are used with the wrong bed
When Should Bed Rails be Used?
Nursing home facilities should ensure any use of bed rails meet the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They must determine if a resident is an appropriate candidate with continuous assessments to evaluate serious medical and mental conditions such as:
- Sleeping issues
- Memory problems
- Uncontrolled body movement
- Assisted walking
Additionally, bed rails should never be used as a replacement for regular monitoring procedures of those at a high risk for falls; otherwise, the nursing home may be held liable for negligence.
Why Are Bed Rials so Dangerous for Nursing Home Residents?
The FDA and US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) warn that installed bed railings can be hazardous for residents of nursing homes. Each year, the FDA reports an average of 4000 facility residents seeking emergency treatment related to such accidents. Furthermore, the FDA estimates that nearly 50% of reported cases result in fatalities due to entrapment between the bed frame and railing. Therefore, healthcare professionals should exercise caution when determining which elderly patients require bed railing placement as well as comply with established safety regulations for their care.
How Do You Lower the Risk of Injury from a Bed Rail System?
When you visit your loved one, make sure you check the following to help prevent an entrapment injury from happening:
- Bed railing has been professionally installed.
- Check to see if you can get at least 4 fingers between the rail and the mattress.
- At least one section of the bed rail, such as the foot rail can be lowered by the resident when needed.
- Proper-size mattresses with raised foam edges on beds are used to prevent residents from being trapped between the mattress and rail.
- Bed frames and bed rails are fitted with the correct hospital bed. Many side rails are installed, disassembled, and reassembled in nursing facilities, leading to the wrong rails on the wrong bed.
Attorneys For Florida Nursing Home Residents Injured or Killed Due to Bed Rail Use
The skilled attorneys at Distasio Law Firm are experienced in helping families and loved ones hold the responsible party accountable after bed rail entrapment has occurred in a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility. By bringing a claim you can help make sure this type of tragedy does not happen again. Call us today for a free no cost consultation with a seasoned Florida bed rail entrapment injury and death lawyer.