Published at Friday, October 12th, 2018 - 16:20:38 PM. Bedding. By Jeanne Rogers.
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.
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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