Bed Rail Suffocation Settlement in Nursing Home Case—Family Paid $190,000

In a recent wrongful death and negligence settlement that our Baltimore Nursing Home Attorneys have been following, the family of a nursing home resident was awarded $190,000 in damages, after the resident suffocated in her bed.

According to the lawsuit, Lottie D’Aust, a resident of Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital Medical Center, in New York, died from suffocation after getting trapped between a bed rail and the mattress—a common and tragic cause of personal injury and wrongful death in nursing homes, and a topic that our Maryland nursing home injury attorneys have been discussing in a recent blog.

The Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.), reports that from 1985 to 2008 nearly 772 incidents have occurred where hospital and nursing home patients have been trapped, stuck, or suffocated due to strangulation in beds that had rails. Out of this number, staff rescued 176 residents before they became injured, 136 experienced nonfatal personal injuries, and 460 residents died.

Although bed rails were designed as an aid to help patients maneuver their positions in the bed, and give security to the residents, many of these patients often experience bed rail entrapment, like Lottie D’Aust, getting caught in the space between the mattress and the bedrails, causing personal injury, strangulation, suffocation, and even wrongful death.

The attorney of the family reportedly argued in the case that there was no need for the resident to have railings on her bed, that the hospital was negligent for not having a bed alarm installed for the Lottie to call for help when she got stuck in-between the rails and the mattress. The medical center claimed that the bed met FDA regulation guidelines, but while the jury was still deliberating, the center agreed to pay the family $190,000 in a last minute settlement.

Most patients, according to the F.D.A., can rest in nursing homes safely without bed rails, as long as the patients are monitored often. F.D.A. guidelines state that if a home or hospital is using bed rails, the staff should carefully monitor patients, to prevent such incidents of injury or wrongful death.

If a Maryland nursing home resident experiences negligence or bed rail entrapment that can result in injury or death, the nursing home could be held liable for Maryland nursing home negligence. Our attorneys at Lebowitz and Mzhen, LLC can help. Contact us today.

Nursing Facility to Pay $190K after Woman Suffocated in Bed, Verdict Search.com, April 29, 2010
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

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