October 16, 2013

Spreading the Word on Bed Rail Dangers

by Levin & Perconti

Last week the Star-Telegram released a helpful new article that reiterates the potential danger of bed rails.

Bed Rail Deaths
The article points to several different incidents to hammer home the point that real lives are lost because of these products. For example, the story of an 81-year old woman was shared. Suffering from dementia, her family had rails installed on her bed under the assumption that they were keeping her safe. However, only a few weeks after adding them, the senior’s neck became caught in the rails. She was not found in time, and she suffocated to death.

As blog readers know, these sorts of accident strike frequently. The article explains how “thousands of frail, confused or elderly people have been injured and hundreds killed after becoming trapped in safety rails installed to keep them from falling out of bed.”

The best reports suggest that in recent years over 37,000 people have been hospitalized as a result of bed rail accidents with hundreds more killed as a result. Reports made to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suggest that of the hundreds who die in these accidents, the vast majority are frail elderly community members. Individuals suffering from cognitive challenges, like dementia and Alzheimer’s are particularly at risk. These seniors are often confused about their surrounding and unable to efficiently communicate with caregivers when they are in danger.

Our elder neglect attorney Steve Levin was interviewed for the story. He explained, ““It’s a horrible, tragic, painful, scary way to die, and it’s just so unnecessary,” Steve went on to point out that it requires vigilance on the part of family members to ensure there is accountability for these accidents in the senior home setting, explaining, “If an elderly resident dies in bed it would not be difficult for a nursing home to attribute the cause of death to whatever medical conditions brought them to the nursing home,”

Particularly disturbing is the fact that, even though the dangers have been known for years, next to nothing has been done by policymakers to prevent future harm. One bed rail safety advocate confessed, “That is amazing to me that you can have a product in a medical supply store and no one has verified is this safe.’

Raising Awareness
For those of us who work daily on elder abuse and neglect issues, discussing the harm faced by seniors as a result of bed rails is beating a dead horse. Everyone knows about these dangers, right? Think again. Many community members remain uninformed about the problem. That is why each of these news stories is a positive step, slowly leading more and more residents to support policy changes. Eventually we can reach the point where no one, from children to seniors, are hurt or killed as a result of these dangerous products.

If you or someone you know was harmed by a bed rail, please get in touch with our injury lawyers today to see how we can help. Negligence is often at the root of these incidents, particularly when the injured person was in a hospital or nursing home at the time.

See Other Blog Posts:

Consumer Voice Testimony on Bed Rail Safety

Dangerous Bed Rails: Is a Complete Ban Necessary?

July 25, 2013

Consumer Voice Testimony on Bed Rail Safety

by Levin & Perconti

Bed rails have been a hot topic among elder care advocates in recent years. Yet for all the discussion and mounting evidence about the dangers of these pieces of equipment, there has yet to be any far-reaching federal actions targeted at this safety risk.

That may change soon.

That is because the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is exploring the issue and may created updated rules. Different options are on the table, from editing safety warning labels and mandating only certain designs be used to banning the products in some locations all together. The CPSC recently had a public hearing on the matter, where all of the “priorities” for the next two fiscal years were discussed. Bed rails were on the agenda.

Fortunately, one of the leading advocates for nursing home residents--The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care--was on the scene, providing testimony which hopefully will educate the members on the dangers and need for change.

Consumer Voice Testimony
A full copy of the Consumer Voice testimony related to bed rails given on July 10th can be found here.

Robyn Grant, the group’s Director of Public Policy and Advocacy explained how a myth about bed rails persists, “that they are a safe, benign and effective means of fall prevention in the elderly.” It is understandable that this perception remains, as the rails seemingly keep individuals from rolling out. But a closer look reveals a myriad of problems. Far from being a safety tool, the rails can be a killer.

Grant noted how the CPSC’s own review identified at least 155 fatalities attributable to the bed rails over less than a ten year period. Over roughly the same period of time there were a staggeringly 37,000 bed rail injuries. Another review from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over a longer period pointed to 480 deaths. And it is important to keep in mind that all of these incidents are likely low estimates, only referring to reported cases.

To tackle the problem the Consumer Voice identified five specific priorities for the CPSC in the coming years. Those recommendations include the creation of new, mandatory standards for bed rails “that reduces the unreasonable risk of asphyxiation and entrapment.” If further study reveals that no design can entirely protect the public, then all adult bed rails may need to be banned. Any rail design that is deemed to pose an unreasonable risk of injury should also be recalled.

In addition, Grant’s testimony argued that there should be an expanded public outreach effort to educate about the dangers of bed rails. At the very least, the public should know about the risks, particularly because the product is actually purchased specifically for safety reasons. As part of the effort, the Consumer Voice urges the creation of a safety guide that can be easily distributed to spread the message

All elder care professionals should follow these CPSC developments closely and be ready to share information about bed rail dangers to friends and family.

See Other Blog Posts:

Consumer Voice “Comments” On Proposed Rule Changes

June 6, 2013

Dangerous Bed Rails - Is A Complete Ban Necessary?

by Levin & Perconti

While seemingly a safety product, advocates have long-known of the hidden danger lurking with use of bed rails. These products purport to prevent a vulnerable medical patient or nursing home resident from falling off a bed. But bed rails do much more than that--they also frequently entrap residents, smothering them, and, sometimes, causing serious injury or death.

National attention was focused on the bed rail problem last year in a high-profile New York Times article on the situation. The story noted how dozens of deaths have been reported in recent years from bed rails, and that does not count the many more that may not have been reported to officials.

The article shared the advocacy of one woman who has been fighting for changes to prevent these bed rail accidents following the tragic passing of her mother. Her 81-year old mother died in a nursing home after her neck was caught in a bed rail.

Mounting Pressure for Bed Rail Ban
The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Food and Drug Administration are the federal agencies charged with monitoring these types of affairs. Both entities have long-known about bed rail dangers, but little to no action had actually been taken to enact changes that would minimize the risks or eliminate them altogether.

That may slowly be changing, as more and more advocates coalesce around the idea that these products cause far more harm than good and simply should not be used.

For example, a McKnight’s Long-Term Care & Assisted Living News story reported on recent action by the Consumer Product Safety Commision which may eventually result in a total ban on bed rails. Earlier this week the Commission “merged” two petitions which each ask the agency to ban the product. It will now weigh the matter, as it accepts public comments on the issue for the next two months (ending in late July).

The merging of the petitions in helpful in emphasizing the size of the advocacy groups fighting this effort. One petition was started by Public Citizen, a consumer rights safety group. The second was led by the activist profiled in the NYT story. Her petition was backed by a wide range of groups, ranging from unions like the Service Employees international Union (SEIU) to the National Association of State Long-Term Care Ombudsman Programs.

The petitions both call for a complete ban on bed rails. In making the case, they note the tremendous risks of entrapment and suffocation. In just the last decades there are 155 documented bed-rail associated deaths--a number that may drastically underestimate total deaths related to these products.

Importantly, those calling for the ban explain how intermediary steps--more label warnings, design changes, etc.--are insufficient. As one advocate pithily wrote, “Warnings are not an appropriate way to ‘fix' dangerous designs, unless perhaps the warning says ‘Do Not Use This Product,’”

If you or a loved one may have been harmed by a bed rail, please get in touch with our team of injury lawyers today to see how we can help. We are proud to work with families in Chicago and throughout Illinois who have been hurt in these tragic situations.

See Other Blog Posts:

Nursing Home Bed Rail Safety Petition to CPSC

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

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

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

November 27, 2012

Bed Rails Come Under Scrutiny

by Levin & Perconti

The New York Times published a story recently that will hopefully raise awareness of an issue that has been on the radar of senior safety advocates for years: bed rails. While seemingly innocuous and intended to act as a safety device themselves, bed rails actually increase the risk of harm to those using them. Many seniors with sickness or disabilities are placed in beds with these rails, and some of them suffer serious injury (even death) as a result.

The article shared the heartbreaking story that is similar to experiences by many others. A family made the heartbreaking choice to move their elderly mother into an assisted living facility as she began showing more and more signs of dementia. The move was to protect her, to prevent her from wandering and to ensure that she had the care she needed to stay safe in her golden years. However, instead of providing additional safety, the move ultimatey killed her. Within a few months she was found dead--strangled by the rails that we placed on her bed in the home.

Raising Awareness of Nursing Home Bed Rail Deaths
The daughter of the victim in that case used the tragedy as a spur to learn more about the dangers of bed rails and work to prevent future accidents. She was shocked to learn that while public product safety experts had known about bed rail deaths for years, little was done. The daughter began contacting influential organizations, writing letters, and otherwise trying to get safety professionals to move. Eventually her work paid off, and the federal consumer product safety commissions agreed to study the issue in 2010.

The study revealed that at least 150 people--mostly elderly seniors--were killed as a result of bed rails in recent years. Another 35,000 were injured during the same time. That amounts to several thousand accidents each and every year from a product that is supposed to prevent harm, not cause it. Even then, the statistics are undoubteldy underestimates, because they come only from ER records where bed rails were explicitly listed as a problem. Many cases may involve the rails but fail to be explicitly indicated in records. A separate review from the NYT found that since 1995 there have been 550 bed rail deaths--27 in 2011 alone.

The use of the data to prevent future harm has been slow going. Regulators first took note of the problem in 1995, but even then the policymakers refused to require safety warnings on the products, instead "voluntary guidelines" were issued--but not until 11 years later, in 2006. In addition, there have not been any substantive requirements to increase safety standards on the products. The cost of replacing older bed rails is usually indicated as the main problem.

Another problem is that there is regulatory confusion over who is responsible for ensuring the safety of the rails. Is it a regular consumer product or a medical device? Different agences deal with the safety of each. Claims about its use is to help specifically with Alzheimers and dementia patients suggests it might be a medical device, but otherwise it could be viewed as any other non-medical product.

No matter what the categorization, the attorneys at our firm in Chicago appreciate that there is no excuse for delay and foot dragging when it comes to improving dangerous products and ensuring future patients and nursing home residents are not unexpectedly injured or killed as a result of these rails.

See Our Related Blog Posts:
Reminder: Bed Rail Dangers are Real

Consumer Voice on the Dangers of Bed Rails

October 28, 2012

Reminder: Bed Rail Dangers are Real

by Levin & Perconti

Most community members appreciate that certain products can be dangerous. We have all heard stories of major recalls involving many different things, from cars and trucks to children's toys and cleaning products. However, even though we know products can be defective or dangerous, we still use them, because it is simply impossible to know for certain whether any indiviual product is defective. We have to rely on the standards of those making the items and the regulators tasked with ensuring overly dangerous materials are kept out of the stream of commerce.

Sadly, the product liability attorneys at our firm know that even with safety standards in place, dangerous products still make it to the market and affect communty members nearly every day. A large part of the work of legal professionals in this field invovles helping those hurt by those products that slip through the cracks, and working to ensure systematically harmful products are no longer available to hurt unsuspecting residents.

The Dangers of Bed Rails in Nursing Homes
For example, the latest newsletter from Biomedical Safety & Standards delved into one product that elder care advocates have continually pointed to being extremely dangerous: bed rails. On one hand, it is easy to understand how these products continue to be used--they are supposed to be a safety item themselves. But therein lies the problem. Not only do bed rails do little to keep residents safe from falling off a bed, they actually pose very serious risks of entrpament and aspyhixiation. It is absolutely critical that all those working with vulnerable indiviuals in nursing homes and hospitals be aware of these risks and act prudently to prevent serious harm.

For example, according to the newsletter, in 2011 the consumer rights advocacy group Public Citizen and the Consumer Voice made calls to the Federal Trade Commission to require marketing changes and even product recalls on certain bed rails. Those who care about the well-being of seniors in nursing homes long ago discovered after examining the issue that far from making residents safer, this rails often lead to strangulation and other horrors. We must act prudently to educate families about these dangers and minimize the risk.

The most potent danger presented by bed rails is likely entrapment, when an individual rolls and is caught between the rail and the matress and bedding. Of course many seniors in nursing homes and medical patients in hosptial have severe mobility problems. While someone at their full strength would be able to get out of the sitaution, entrapment in a bed rail to a vulnerable patient can literally be life-threatening. According to the newsletter, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has well over 525 reports of bed rail death. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has identified at least 125 fatal incidents. And these represents only the tregedies reported to these government agencies, many more have likely occurred without report.

The elder care lawyers at our firm remind all local families and caregivers of the dangers of these bed rails. Please be wary of the harm that they cause and the risks they pose to vulnerable individuals using them. If someone you know is ever harmed in a bed rail incident, be sure to contact our office to see how we can help.

See Our Related Blog Posts:
The Reality of Nursing Home Falls

Consumer Voice on Dangers of Bed Rails

October 13, 2010

Standing Up For Seniors Report: Bed Rail Deaths

by Levin & Perconti

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.

March 13, 2010

Chicago, Illinois Nursing Home Attorneys Warn Against Bedrail Entrapment

by Levin & Perconti

The New York Times recently published an expose that questions whether beds in nursing homes are safe for nursing home residents. They discussed the death of one patient who found with his neck entrapped between the mattress and the bedrail. The patient wrongfully died from asphyxiation. The family filed a nursing home neglect lawsuit against the hospice organization, the manufacturer of the bed and the medical equipment vendor.

While bedrails are supposed to be safety devices, experts believe that they oftentimes create more problems than they solve. Rails decrease a patient’s risk of falling by 10 to 15 percent, yet they increase the risk of injury by about 20 percent. This happens when confused or demented patients who try to climb over the rails fall from a lower level and land on their knees or legs. These patients are then apt to fall further and strike their heads. However, the biggest danger is entrapment. Nursing home residents can get stuck within the rails or between the rail and the mattress. The FDA had tallied 480 deaths and 138 injuries from nursing home bedrail entrapment incidents. A resident can roll into the slot next to the rail, which slides the mattress to the opposite side. The patient will drop to the gap causing the mattress to press against his/her chest making it impossible to breathe.

The Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti recently reached a settlement in a nursing home bedrail entrapment death. The victim’s family was awarded $570,000 in the case. To read about this incident of nursing home neglect in Chicago follow the hyperlink.

January 9, 2010

Chicago Nursing Home Neglect Lawyers Reach Settlement for Bedrail Entrapment Death

by Levin & Perconti

Levin and Perconti has reached a settlement with a south suburban nursing home after a victim died when her neck became entrapped between her bedrail and mattress at the nursing home. Attorneys Steven Levin and Michael Bonamarte represented the family and reached a $570,000 settlement for the adult grandchildren of a 99-year-old resident. The client’s grandmother was admitted to the facility on December 6, 2007, after being hospitalized with seizures. According to the nursing home lawyers, bedrails were placed on her bed upon admittance. On January 27, 2008 a nurse was making her nightly rounds and discovered the client’s grandmother on the floor next to her bed with her head entrapped between the bedrail and mattress. While healthcare professionals tried to revive her, her injuries were too severe and she died hours later. The autopsy confirmed that the client’s grandmother died from compressional asphyxia when her neck became entrapped between the bedrail and mattress. The compression from the entrapment was so severe that in addition to cutting off her oxygen supply, it fractured a bone in her neck. The coroner stated that her death was similar to strangulation or hanging. The nursing home lawyers argued that the nursing home placed her in danger of serious harm by using bedrails. Nursing home lawyer Michael Bonamarte stated that it was a terrifying way to die and noted that this could easily be avoided. Chicago lawyer Steven Levin added that the nursing home failed to consult the decedent’s family members regarding the use of bedrails. After the wrongful death, the Illinois Department of Public Health cited the facility for improper nursing care and resident injury, fining them $10,000.

January 11, 2008

New law makes nursing home and hospital patients at risk for falls less likely to be injured

by Levin & Perconti

A new law passed recently makes nursing home and hospital patients with a risk of falling safer. The law acknowledges problems with the handling and care of patients. Many lawsuits each year are brought on behalf of patients who are injured because the higher level of care they required when being transported or lifted was not met. Patients that are at risk are those at facilities that, either because of neglectful practices, staffing issues or lack of appropriate equipment, are unable to provide the care needed. The new law requires health care facilities to purchase equipment designed to aid in the lifting and handling of patients, such as mechanical lifts, as well as solving many issues relating to nursing home and hospital staff. The New Jersey law makes it mandatory for health care workers to be properly trained and also require that there are enough staff members on hand to be able to meet the needs of patients requiring lifting or transportation. Also important is the protection workers are given from being penalized by employers for refusing to handle a patient because of a concern for the patient's or their own safety and wellbeing. Many times, patients require multiple staff members in a patient handling procedure and when there are not enough workers available to help, the resulting safety risks are unacceptable. Hopefully other states, including Illinois, will follow suit.

April 5, 2007

North Carolina nursing home fined $85,000 for putting residents in immediate jeopardy

by Levin & Perconti

A state inspection of a North Carolina nursing home where a woman suffocated found conditions constituted “immediate jeopardy to resident health and safety” and recommended fines of $85,000. The inspection began after a 93 year-old resident died after slipping between a mattress and a bed rail. The report from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services says that the center was not following certain safety mandates against nursing home abuse and neglect. One in six residents at the center was found to have bed rails that were not ordered as part of their medical care.

For the full article.

April 1, 2007

North Carolina disciplines nursing home for its abuse and neglect in report

by Levin & Perconti

A state inspection of a North Carolina nursing home where a woman suffocated found that conditions in the home constituted “immediate jeopardy to resident health and safety.” Officials spent two days investigating the home after a 93 year-old resident died after slipping between a mattress and bedrail. The report recommends fines of $85,000 for the nursing home abuse and neglect at the facility. The report also revealed that the woman had accidents similar to the one that led to her death, but the nursing home did not implement changes.

For the full article.

July 5, 2006

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

by Levin & Perconti

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.

For the full article.

May 17, 2006

Evergreen Nursing & Rehab Center – Effingham, IL – 5/17/2006

by Levin & Perconti

Evergreen Nursing & Rehab Center was fined $25,000 for failure to provide adequate supervision and assistance for a resident who suffocated after getting caught in a bed rail.

The Illinois Department of Health produces quarterly reports on nursing home violators.

March 10, 2006

FDA releases guide on the safety of bedrails

by Levin & Perconti

The FDA today released technical guidance to help hospital bed manufacturers, hospitals, nursing homes, and private caregivers assess the safety of bedrails.

The guide can be downloaded here:
Download file

December 1, 2005

Major Illinois nursing home chain Alden fined after nursing aide raped patient

by Levin & Perconti

Alden Village Health Facility for Children and Young Adults in Bloomingdale was fined $10,000 by the state and given a six-month conditional license after a 23-year old patient was raped and impregnated by a nurses aid.
This is not the first violation for the often troubled chain that operates 31 other facilities in Illinois. Since 1996, this particular facility has been cited by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 154 times and at least once every year.

Previous fines, citations and lawsuits at the facility include:
•November 2003 - suit alleging sexual abuse of an 11-year-old mentally retarded girl.
•2004 - $50,000 fine when a 12-year-old boy died after he was trapped between his mattress and crib.
•November 2005 – 19 deficiencies cited by the Department of Public Health