Bedrails Aren’t Always Safe

Bedrails are a safety feature often added to the beds of toddlers and to hospital beds to prevent falls from the bed onto the floor. While these are important safety features, they may also provide a death trap to patients who have altered mental status, such as those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The Chicago Tribune reports on the decrease of use of bedrails and restraints in nursing homes has helped, but deaths still occur.

Regulators and consumer advocates have been concerned over the use of bed rails and restraints for years. Driven primarily by the noble goal of preserving the dignity and enhancing independence, the anti-restraint movement has gained momentum in the past few years.

Even when used in the correct manner and when designed to fit the bed or the mattress, bed rails can present a hazard to patients with physical limitations or those who suffer from dementia or delirium.

Between 1985 and 2013, the Food and Drug Administration reported 531 rail-related deaths.

Patients have gotten their head or throat caught between the bed rails and the mattress and have died as a result. One notable case was prominent Pittsburgher Robert Frankel, who was found on the floor, with his head and neck trapped between the rails and the mattress. Frankel, who had been a state legislator, died of what was deemed “accidental asphyxiation.”

While nursing homes have moved away from the use of bedrails, in line with government guidelines along with the own concerns, the deaths are still occurring. After Frankel’s death, the facility removed all bedrails still in use within 12-hours voluntarily. Frankel’s bedrails were not being used to stop falls, but instead to allow him to reposition himself, a use in line with current guidelines.

Have you or a loved one been the victim of abuse or neglect while staying in a nursing home? You may have a case. Let the experienced attorneys at the law offices of Schenk Smith fight for you. Call today for a consultation.