Bed Rail Deaths and Injuries
Written by Faith Anderson on December 1, 2012
Deaths and Injuries Connected to Bed Rails
According to preliminary data from a study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there have been at least 150 reported deaths and roughly 35,000 injuries linked to problems with the potentially dangerous bed rails. This data was compiled from emergency room visits between 2003 and May 2012, and indicates that most of the bed rail-related injuries and fatalities involved elderly individuals. Unfortunately, FDA officials have indicated that the rate of injury and death linked to dangerous bed rails is likely higher than reported, as nursing homes and emergency room doctors don’t always list bed rails as the cause of death or injury.
Consumer Advocates Propose Bed Rail Ban
In light of this alarming information, consumer advocacy groups have called for a ban of some bed rail products, including the Bedside Assistant portable bed rails manufactured by Bed Handles, Inc. These particular bed rails are self-installed pieces of metal tubing designed to be placed under the mattress, with a portion that curves up over the top of the mattress and acts as an edge. Unfortunately, a potential design defect may allow a dangerous gap to form between the mattress and handle, possibly causing the person in the bed to become entrapped and potentially leading to strangulation or suffocation.
Better Warning Can Prevent Bed Rail Deaths
Experts who have reviewed the risk of entrapment posed by bed rails believe that deaths caused by the devices could be avoided with better warnings. Back in 1995, the FDA issued a safety warning about the devices, but failed to require bed rail manufacturers to put safety labels on them because of industry resistance, settling for “voluntary guidelines” instead. And while the dangers of bed rails have led to a decline in their use in hospitals and nursing homes, they are still widely used in home care and many health care facilities are using older models that could put patients at risk of death. Approximately 550 bed rail-related deaths have occurred since the first warning was issued in 1995, and in 2011 alone, 27 people died while using a bed rail.
Contact a Knowledgeable Attorney for Help
No pharmaceutical drug or medical device should put individuals at risk of injury or death, particularly those that are meant to protect the safety of patients. Medical professionals and in-home caretakers often use bed rails as a means of helping elderly or disabled patients pull themselves up and get out of bed or as a means of preventing them from falling out of bed and injuring themselves. Unfortunately, the bed rails themselves may pose a serious hazard for some patients, especially those with Alzheimer’s who may become confused and trapped between a bed rail and a mattress, possibly leading to serious injury or death. If your loved one has suffered injuries or died and you believe a bed rail to be the cause, our consumer advocates at the Consumer Justice Foundation can help you get in touch with an experienced product liability lawyer in your area who can inform you of your legal options.