Published at Friday, October 12th, 2018 - 16:10:22 PM. Bedding. By Jeanne Rogers.
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.
The second source of significant information comes from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA issued a Safety Alert in August of 1995 regarding the entrapment hazards and safety concerns which accompany the use of bed side rails. The Safety Alert was communicated to hospital administrators, hospital associations, nursing homes, risk managers, bio-medical/clinical engineers, and directors of nursing. The Alert was not specific to any one manufacturer or particular design of side rail but warned health care providers that the FDA had received 102 reports of head and body entrapment incidents involving side rails between 1990 and 1995. The 102 reports of entrapment resulted in 68 deaths, 22 injuries, and 12 entrapments without injury. These unfortunate events occurred in hospitals, nursing homes, and private homes. The majority of the entrapments involved elderly patients.
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