Are Bed Rails a Maryland Nursing Home Hazard?

By now we’ve heard about crib entrapment and the dangers posed by some poorly designed cribs that have openings wide enough between the crib slats and the mattress that an infant or toddler can easily fall into the space and die from suffocation. But were you aware that hospital beds can pose a similar hazard to the sick and the elderly?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, in the last 24 years, 480 people have died from entrapment in a hospital bed. A patient’s head can gets stuck between the bed’s rails or in the middle of the mattress, which can quickly lead to asphyxiation. There have been 138 reported injuries, 185 close calls, numerous other incidents involving hospital beds that have very likely gone unreported.

Hospital Bed Rails as an Entrapment Hazard

Apparently knowledge of this hazard isn’t new. The FDA issued a warning about bed rail entrapment in 1995. With this awareness, the use of bed rails at assisted living facilities is now under 10 %–although that is still a significant number.

People have filed nursing home negligence and products liability lawsuits as a result of personal injuries and wrongful deaths caused by a hospital bed with rails. One nursing home patient, Harry Griph, died not from failure to thrive, which the 75-year-old was suffering from, but because his neck got trapped between the mattress and bed rail. His cause of death was asphyxiation.

Hospital Bed Rails as a Fall Hazard

Although bed rails are considered a safety device for keeping confused, disoriented medicated, sick, or restless people from falling out of their beds in nursing homes and hospitals, bioethicist and geriatrician Steven Miles told the New York Times that while bed rails do lower a person’s fall risk by 10 – 15%, they increase injury risk by approximately 20%. A patient that tries to climb over the rails to get out of bed can end up falling from a higher elevation and sustaining a head injury.

Assisted living facilities can be held liable for Maryland nursing home negligence if they allowed a hazard to exist on the premise that should have been removed or repaired. A person who sustains a traumatic brain injury from falling off a hospital bed or the family members of a resident that dies from suffocation during a bed entrapment accident may have grounds for a Maryland injury lawsuit. The manufacturer of a poorly designed or defective hospital bed can be sued Maryland products liability.

Safe in Bed?, New York Times, March 10, 2010
Siderails, Falls in Long-Term Care
Related Web Resources:

Maryland Nursing Home Care Guide

Falls in Nursing Homes, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog

Contact our Maryland injury law firm today.

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