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Bedrails: an unknown–but not uncommon cause of death in nursing homes

In March, the FDA issued guidelines to try and aid nursing homes in preventing deaths from bedrails. Nursing homes claim the benefits of bedrails are to help patients pull themselves up and prevent themselves from rolling out of bed. However, often the homes use side bedrails to restrain a wandering patient and trap them in the bed. The danger exists because frail and elderly patients get trapped in between the rail and mattress, resulting in death or serious injury.

Some of the problems that cause these injuries are bedrails that are put together incorrectly or from mismatched parts. Lack of awareness is also to blame. Nursing homes aren’t the only ones plagued by faulty bedrails. As awareness increases and nursing homes eliminate bedrails from their patient rooms, the older and unsafe rails are being used on home-care and hospice patients.

Levin & Perconti is currently representing the family of an 82 year old Kentucky woman who asphyxiated when her body became trapped between the mattress and the bedrail. Due to insufficient training and staffing, nurses were improperly using side rails as a restraint for the woman. In fact, the nurses even went as far as elevating the head and foot of the bed, creating an inverted cave-like area and making the risk of entrapment even higher.

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