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The Dangers of Resident Bed Rails in Nursing Homes—An Overview (Part 1 of 9)

Bed rails—also called side rails, bedside rails, safety rails, and guide rails—were developed and implemented to aid patients in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and homecare settings. These rails are adjustable metal or rigid plastic bars that attach to the bed in a variety of sizes and shapes. The rails serve a variety of purposes, including:

  • Aiding in the transportation of a resident following surgery, or when relocating the resident to a new room or unit;
  • Aiding in turning and repositioning a resident while in bed, or transferring the resident in or out of the bed;
  • Providing a feeling of security and comfort, as well as providing access to bed controls; and
  • Functioning as a physical barrier to remind the patient of the bed’s perimeters, or to restrict voluntary movement such as the patient attempting to exit the bed without proper aid.

However, as illustrated by a report recently released by the Minnesota Department of Health, these bed rails also pose hazards that can cause injury or death to patients of healthcare facilities.

Such instances of injury or death occurring due to bed rails are not new occurrences. As early has 1995, the Food and Drug Administration released a safety alert entitled “Entrapment Hazards with Hospital Bed Side Rails.”

According to a report issued by the Hospital Bed Safety Workgroup in 2003, clinical research indicates that bed rails pose a considerable risk of entrapment—a situation that can prove fatal if the patient doesn’t receive assistance in time. Additionally, bed rails can cause falls when patients errantly attempt to climb over the rails.

The following reports of this series will continue to highlight the risks posed by bed rails, as well as provide an explanation of the measures responsible healthcare facilities can enact to ensure resident safety.

To learn more, please check out our recent series of blogs discussing The Dangers of Resident Bed Rails in Nursing Homes:

  • The Dangers of Resident Bed Rails in Nursing Homes–Rates of Incidence: Part 2 of 9
  • The Dangers of Resident Bed Rails in Nursing Homes–Types of Bed Rails: Part 3 of 9
  • The Dangers of Resident Bed Rails in Nursing Homes—Anatomy of Entrapment Part 4 of 9
  • The Dangers of Resident Bed Rails in Nursing Homes–Guiding Principles Regarding the Safe use of Bed Rails: Part 5 of 9
  • The Dangers of Resident Bed Rails in Nursing Homes–Policy Considerations: Part 6 of 9
  • The Dangers of Resident Bed Rails in Nursing Homes–Risk Intervention: Part 7 of 9
  • The Dangers of Resident Bed Rails in Nursing Homes– Bed Rail Safety Guidelines: Part 8 of 9
  • The Dangers of Resident Bed Rails in Nursing Homes–Conclusion: Part 9 of 9

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, including the improper use of side rails. 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.