Published at Thursday, September 06th, 2018 - 02:14:54 AM. Bedding. By Gretchen Arnold.
As attorneys, many of us have consulted with clients and their families as a result of a fall from a hospital or nursing home bed. These falls result in fractured arms, legs, and hips, and often even more serious injuries such as skull fractures. The patient’s (or family’s) immediate reaction to these unfortunate injuries is to blame the hospital, nursing home, nursing staff, or attending physicians for the failure to have bed side rails raised and in place to prevent such falls. This typical reaction is based upon the assumption that bed rails, when properly used, will prevent the patient/resident from falling out of the bed and suffering injury. However, bed rails are not benign safety devices and this article will address the dangers created by their use.
Bed side rails have been in existence for years and are manufactured by several different companies with numerous configurations and designs. A quick search of the Internet discloses a number of medical supply companies which manufacture and sell these products. The most common bed rail designs include full-length rails, three-quarter-length rails, half-length rails, quarter-length rails, and split-rail configuration (often the most dangerous design). Bed rails are used extensively in hospitals and nursing homes. In hospitals, their use is typically a nursing decision rather than based upon a physician’s order. However, in nursing homes, Federal regulations require a physician’s order if bed rails are to be used, as the regulations recognize side rails as a form of restraint. Notwithstanding the requirement for nursing homes, physician’s orders are often not obtained because of the belief that bed rails are simply a safety device. This is a misconception: bed rails often cause injury or death.
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