February 18, 2013

U.S. Senators Send Letter Urging Action on Dangerous Bed Rails

by Levin & Perconti

For several years we have discussed the ever-present (but little known) risks posed by bed rails. Patients in hospitals, nursing homes residents, and those with special beds at home can very easily become injured as a result of these metal rails placed on the sides of their bed. These objects are actually intended to improve safety, but when not designed properly or used incorrectly, they may lead to serious harm--even death. Far too many local seniors in long-term care facilities have been harmed as a result of these rails. Failure to account for the risks may be an example of nursing home neglect.

While it has been a hard fight to raise awareness of these risks, some advocates have been working tirelessly to ensure community members know of the harm. Recently, those efforts attracted even larger national attention when five sitting U.S. Senators wrote a letter to the head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), urging that they take action to minimize the harm that can result from these rails.

The Bed Rail Letter
Last year the CPSC finished a report that looked into the dangers of bed rails and possible steps to correct the problem. The report found that tens of thousands of emergency room visits were spurred by bed rail accidents over a nine year period. Over 150 deaths were reported directly from the products--and that is not counting the many injuries and deaths that may not have been reported as such. After reviewing the report, several Senators sent a letter to the agency head this month urging real action.

The letter, signed by Senators Merkley, Sanders, Harken, Blumenthal, Franken calls on the CPSC to take “immediate action” to address the dangers of these rails. The action that is requested includes a range of steps which will hopefully minimize the risk of harm and ultimately save vulnerable seniors from serious injury or even death caused by these products.

The Senator’s urged the CPSC to do three things: (1) formulate safety regulations so that the most dangerous designs are not used: (2) educate the public on the danger risks; (3) exercise its recall power, when necessary, to get the most dangerous objects out of the marketplace

Spurred By Neglect Lawsuit
As with many other consumer safety efforts, the efforts to protect community members from bed rails began with a community members seeking legal accountability following a death. A woman filed suit against a nursing home and those connected with the use of manufacture of bed rails after her mother died as a result of the product. After completing the legal matter, she then began advocating to prevent others from suffering similar harm. The CPSC report and this recent letter urging actions are direct by-products of that work.

These developments are an example of why our nursing home neglect attorneys at our firm are proud to work in this field. Change only happens when real people step forward and demand action. Nothing is gained by staying silent.

See Other Blog Posts:

MRSA Infections on the Rise in Nursing Homes

Excessive Medication Common in Nursing Homes