Published at Sunday, September 09th, 2018 - 06:32:45 AM. Bedding. By Eunice Johnston.
There has been little study or publication about the risks and benefits of bed rails. However, the reports of adult deaths and injuries from bed rails on file with the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) (incidents from 1993 to 1996) provide significant information for attorneys investigating a potential negligence claim. The CPSC information reflects that seventy-four patients died as a result of the use of bed rails. Moreover, it in not unrealistic to conclude that the actual number of patient deaths far exceeded the reported deaths. Regardless of the true frequency of deaths, 70% of the reported patient deaths resulted from entrapment between the mattress and the bed rail such that the patient’s face was pressed against the mattress. 18% percent of the reported deaths were the result of entrapment and compression of the neck within the bed rails. Finally, 12% twelve percent of the reported deaths were caused by being trapped by the rails after sliding partially off the bed, resulting in neck flexion and chest compression.
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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