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Standing Up For Seniors Report: Bed Rail Deaths

The American Association for Justice’s new comprehensive new report entitled, “Standing Up For Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans” includes discussion of a little known problem that occurs with startling frequency: bed rail deaths.

Hundreds of our vulnerable seniors have been killed in connection with the bed rails placed on the sides of their sleeping spot. Residents can become trapped between the rails, under them, or in the gaps between the rail and mattress. Part of the problem has to do with poor design. Many manufacturers of these products have ignored evidence that proves the risks they pose. Few design changes have been made to prevent these deaths.

Besides the design problems, however, nursing homes often overuse bed rails. Many experts admit that the rails are commonly unnecessary and only worsen problematic falls. Residents offer suffer increased injuries when attempting to get in and out of bed over the top of the rails
While few governmental regulations exist to stem the problem, many nursing home lawyers are working to hold negligent manufacturers and nursing homes accountable for the deaths.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti are well aware of the potentially deadly problems associated with bed rails. Our attorneys have worked on several cases leading to redress of the problem and policy changes at facilities to limit the use of these rails. In one case, our nursing home lawyers successfully won a settlement against a distribution company following the tragic death of a 99 year old resident. The victim’s neck became entrapped between the bedrail and the mattress leading to compressional asphyxia. The power of the compression cannot be understated-it both cut off the resident’s oxygen supply and broke a bone in her neck.

Attorney Michael Bonamarte explained at the time, “what makes this case particularly disturbing is that the bedrails were not providing any medical benefit to the resident.”

The case ultimately led the Illinois Department of Public Health to cite the negligent facility for improper nursing home care.

Our next examination of the AAJ study will look at the scam artists who target vulnerable seniors and what attorneys are doing to stop them.

Please Click Here to view the full copy of this report.

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