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Consumer Voice on Dangers of Bed Rails

Each Illinois nursing home abuse lawyer at our firm understand that seniors face a range of dangers. We often discuss issues of neglect and abuse by caregivers. Beyond mistreatment by those on whom seniors rely, it is also crucial to understand the safety hazards of certain products used by seniors. For example, the Consumer Voice issues a statement today discussing the suffocation, asphyxiation, and fall risks presented by these objects. The Statement was provided to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regarding the group’s agenda and priorities for the next fiscal year.

The group is calling for the promulgation of standards for adult bed rails as part of the CPSC FY 2014 agenda.

Bed Rail Dangers
Bed rails are commonly used at local long-term care facilities. These objects are rails placed along the length of a bed in order to, supposedly, keep seniors from rolling or falling off the bed. There is an incorrect assumption that these rails are safe and effective. They are not. Instead, many caregivers are lulled into a sense of security by the objects, failing to learn that the rails actually lead to more injury risks than they prevent. Our Chicago nursing home neglect attorneys understand the need to spread awareness of these dangers in order to ultimately save lives.

Research into the issue shows clearly that not only are falls more common with bed rails, but other injuries (including fatal injuries) are more common with these rails. Over a fifteen year period between 1985 and 2009 there were more than 800 instances of individuals getting caught or entangled in the rails reported to the Food and Drug Administration; nearly 480 of those accidents were fatal. Importantly, many similar instances are never actually reported to the FDA, meaning that the actual damage caused by these products are hard to fully calculate.

Certain individuals are more likely to be hurt by these bed rails. The Consumer Voice statement explained how aging,frail, and often confused individuals are more vulnerable to injuries. In the nursing home, this often means residents with Alzheimer’s and dementia are at the highest risks–failing to prevent a bed rail injury might be a sign of nursing home neglect.

For these reasons bed rails can never be used as a restraint–federal law prohibits it. In addition, a wide range of advocates and care professionals agree that use for fall prevention is also unwise–alternatives need be explored. Calls for outright bans are also not uncommon considering the overall risk of harm presented.

At the very least, the Consumer Voice urges the CPSC to better regulate the manufacturing and marketing of these products for safety reasons. These products can usually be purchased in stores by anyone, and they do not come with any warnings about the dangers. The group also asked the CPSC to conduct rulemaking to create safety standards to address the risks of these adult bed rails. The hope is that more information, better designs, and more warnings will combine to prevent any more seniors from needless injury or death as a result of these products.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Illinois Nursing Home Violation: University Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Standing Up for Seniors Report: Bed Rail Deaths