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Bed Rails / Asphyxiation

The Dangers of Improperly Used Siderails in Nursing Homes

In yesterday’s blog, we reported on a resident of the Assumption Home nursing home who strangled to death in siderail. Click here to see that story.  The Minnesota Department of Health determined that this event was the result of the nursing home’s neglect. [Report no. H5446012]

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:

The Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm represents clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to provide proper care. If you believe your loved one has been harmed because a nursing home and its employees cut corners, take action and contact the Kosieradzki • Smith Law Firm online or call us toll-free at (877) 552-2873 to set up a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.