F.D.A. Bed Rail Safety Guidelines for Maryland Nursing Homes

In a recent blog, our Maryland Accident Attorneys discussed the topic of whether bed rails in Maryland nursing homes are a potential health hazard, or whether they protect the health and safety of residents.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.), nearly 2.5 million nursing home and hospital beds are currently used in this country. In an F.D.A. study, from 1985 to 2008, there have reportedly been 772 incidents where hospital and nursing home patients have been trapped, stuck, or strangled in beds that had rails. Out of this number, 176 were saved by the staff before experiencing injury, 136 experienced personal injuries that were nonfatal, and 460 patients died.

Bedrails are designed to aid in helping patients pull themselves up, turn into a different positions in the bed, provide a feeling of security, and keep patients who are frail, or who have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s safe from harm, such as falling, or rolling out of bed.

Unfortunately these very patients often get trapped or stuck in the space between the mattress and the bedrails, causing personal injury, strangulation, suffocating, and wrongful death, which can result in a Maryland personal injury lawsuit. Bedrail injuries can often result in nursing home falls, when a patient attempts to climb over the rails, bruising or scrapes to the skin, as well as a feeling of restriction, and agitated behavior from being restrained.

According to F.D.A. guidelines, if nursing homes or hospitals are using bed rails, patients should be protected from nursing home negligence or personal injury, by having the staff perform an on-going assessment of their status, and especially monitoring patients who are high risk. If bedrails are used, one or more sections of the bedrail should be lowered, and a mattress with padded edges should be used to prevent patients from becoming stuck in the space between the bedrail and the mattress, and all gaps between the bedrails and the mattress should be eliminated.

Most patients according to the F.D.A. can safely stay in nursing home or hospital beds without bedrails, as long as patients are monitored often, the bed is in a low position with the wheels locked, and a mat is placed next to a patient who is at-risk for nursing home falls, to prevent injury and nursing home negligence. Other tips from the F.D.A. include anticipating the actions of patients who are getting out of bed because of being thirsty, hungry, or who need to use the toilet, or who need pain relief. Extra monitoring can go a long way to prevent hospital or nursing home negligence.

If a Maryland nursing home fails to protect residents from nursing home falls, bed rail entrapment, or a hazardous or defective bed that can result in injury or death, the nursing home could be held liable for Maryland nursing home negligence, Maryland personal injury, or Maryland products liability. Contact our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC today for a free consultation.

A Guide to Bed Safety Bed Rails in Hospitals, Nursing Homes and Home Health Care: The Facts, The Food and Drug Administration
Bedrails Can Cause Deaths in Frail, Elderly, NPR, June 29, 2006

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration: (FDA)

Are Bed Rails A Maryland Nursing Home Hazard?, Maryland Accident Law Blog, March 18, 2010
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: (CDC), Falls in Nursing Homes

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