Siderails are designed to prevent a resident from falling out of bed, but they often do more harm than good. Residents can fall and be injured while trying to climb over the siderails, or worse, they can die from asphyxiation by getting trapped between the mattress and the rail.
Siderails may or may not constitute a restraint, depending on the particular circumstances. When a resident becomes caught in a siderail or other physical restraint, asphyxiation is usually the cause of death in these cases. The process of death is typically slow and painful.
The U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has studied the hazards of using restraints for several years, with the goal of reducing the risk of side rail entrapment in hospital-style beds. Between January 1, 1985 and January 1, 2008, the FDA received 772 incidents of patients caught, trapped, entangled, or strangled in hospital-style beds. The reports included 460 deaths, 136 nonfatal injuries, and 176 cases where staff needed to intervene to prevent injuries. Most patients were frail, elderly or confused.
Resources about Siderails
As part of its effort to increase resident safety, the FDA has several publications available that offer details, concerns and guidance on restraint and siderail hazards, including:
- HBSW/FDA Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on Entrapment Issues(updated October 9, 2007).
- A Guide for Modifying Bed Systems and Using Accessories to Reduce the Risk of Entrapment (issued June 21, 2006).
- Hospital Bed System Dimensional and Assessment Guidance to Reduce Entrapment – Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff (issued March 10, 2006).
- Press Release: FDA Issues Guidance on Hospital Bed Design to Reduce Patient Entrapment(issued March 9, 2006).
- HBSW Bed Safety Entrapment Kit Ordering Instructions (issued March 9, 2006).
- Clinical Guidance for the Assessment and Implementation of Bed Rails in Hospitals, Long Term Care Facilities and Home Care Settings.
- Brochure: A Guide to Bed Safety; Bed Rails in Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Home Health Care: The Facts.
- Bed Rail – Related Entrapment Deaths, Sentinel Event Alert, Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) Sentinel Event Alert, September 6, 2002.
- Entrapment Hazards with Hospital Bed Side Rails, Food and Drug Administration Safety Alert, 1995.
- CMS/FDA Letter regarding Physical Restraint Definition.
If you believe that a loved one has suffered a bedrail-related injury, take action and contact the Kosieradzki Smith Law Firm online or call us toll free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a FREE INITIAL CONSULTATION.