April 29, 2013

Nursing Home Bed Rail Safety Petition to CPSC

by Levin & Perconti

Seniors in nursing homes face a mountain of physical, mental, and emotional challenges each and every day. That is why caregivers are there to provide around-the-clock support. On one hand, many resident’s own health is troubling, requiring special equipment to breathe, move, and otherwise complete daily tasks. On top of that, even simple functions--like laying in bed for a night’s sleep--come with injury risks that healthier community members do not face.

One might think that nothing could go wrong when a senior resident is lying in bed. That must be the safest place for them, right? They avoid the risks of wandering or altercations, can be monitored easily by aides, and otherwise do not face any dangers. Not quite. For one thing, a roll off the bed could prove fatal for a resident with frail bones and weaker recovery systems. To prevent falls, many facilities use “bed rails.” These are metal bars placed on the sides of beds to prevent rolling off. But over the past few years, more and more question marks have been raised about the inherent dangers that these rails themselves pose for seniors.

All of this has led many activists to push for stricter standards on the design, manufacture, and use of these rails. Recently, many of those activists, including our team of nursing home neglect lawyers in Illinois, signed a petition urging more action by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

Click Here to view and sign.

Bed Rail Injury Prevention
As explained in a recent call to action from the Consumer Voice, the petition calls on the CPSC to “take all necessary action to protect consumers--including a ban on adult portable bed rails.” Alternatively, the call urges the agency to at least require mandatory safety standards. Right now, it is seemingly a free-for-all, with a variety of bed rails being developed and used, many which are very old and dangerously designed.

Sadly, in an attempt to prioritize profit over resident safety, many facilities continue to use whatever is cheapest or does not require them to buy safer products. This results in many vulnerable seniors laying in beds with dangerous traps awaiting them on each side with a false roll.

As we have reported frequently, bed rails can cause serious harm--usually from entrapment and asphyxiation. When a vulnerable senior rolls into one, they may become caught between the metal rail and the mattress. Even simple actions like dislodging oneself from that spot can be impossible for an ailing resident. When not corrected in time by aides, this can cause serious harm, or even suffocation of the resident. Many injuries and deaths have been reported over the years in just this way. In fact, the Consumer Voice reports that as many as 150 seniors may have died and another 37,000 injured as a result of nursing home bed rails in the last ten years alone.

Seniors deserve better than lazy use of “safety” equipment that actually causes them more risk than it protects. We urge to CPSC to take action to spare significant suffering from future elderly nursing home residents.

See Other Posts:

Nursing Home Illness Caused By Mattress Infection

The Many Faces of Illinois Nursing Home Abuse