In many cases, abuse or neglect are not the only sources of injuries in nursing homes. A large part of neglect is ignoring some environmental factors that could cause harm – even if they are meant to help. As elders age, especially those with dementia or severe physical disabilities, they become less and less able to take care of themselves and their mobility becomes limited. This has led to a surprising source of injuries: those caused by bed rails.
Bed Rails & Their Dangers
Bed rails are typically used in hospital settings where they are meant to keep individuals from rolling out of bed. They are also used as railings that nursing home patients can use to pull themselves into a sitting position or out of bed. While this may be perfectly fine for individuals who still have a decent amount of strength and independence of movement, bed rails can pose a more serious health threat to anyone who is no longer able to take care of themselves or has weakened physical abilities.
Injuries occur when individuals roll into the gap between the bed rail and the mattress and get an arm stuck, or simply become wedged in the gap. Unable to pull themselves out of the gap leads to injuries or even suffocation if the individual is unable to move themselves. If a patient is confused, they may try to climb over the railings, causing more falls, and if their arm or leg gets stuck, they may not be able to remove it from the bed rail which can result in severe bruising or more serious injuries.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), between the years of 2003 and 2012, there were 155 deaths associated with the use of bed rails. Also included in the CPSC 2012 report was the finding that 36,900 visits to hospital emergency rooms were due to bed rails. While these numbers may not account for a large portion of nursing home or elderly deaths and injuries, it is significant enough to justify extra caution when using bed rails for elderly loved ones.
Why This Matters to You
Simply put, this matters because you can advocate to have bed rails removed. If the nursing home where your loved one lives uses bed rails, have a discussion with their primary physician and the nursing staff to determine if the bed rails are acting as a safety feature or posing a threat. Luckily, few facilities use bed rails, but that means it may be a sign of neglect if bed rails are used exclusively and if the nursing staff does not respond to your concerns. If you are honest with your concerns and know the data, you can better protect your loved one so they do not suffer unnecessary injuries from bed rails.
If you or a loved one have been a victim of abuse, call Gharibian Law (877-875-1119) for a free consultation and the best legal representation.