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Bed Rails Pose Danger to Kentucky Seniors

Posted in Reported Accidents & Injuries on June 17, 2013

Bed-Rails-Pose-Danger-to-Kentucky-Seniors-ImageAt least 550 people have died and more than 36,000 have been injured by so-called “safety” bed rails – many of them in nursing homes in Kentucky and nationally.

Eighty-three percent of bed-rail deaths involve older adults, statistics show.

At present, there are no mandatory safety standards for adult bed rails. The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care is trying to do something about that.

The group is mounting a petition drive to prompt the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to establish minimum safety standards for all adult bed rails and to ban bed rails that don’t meet those standards.

You can view the bed rail petition – or sign it – here.

What Are the Dangers of Bed Rails?

Bed rails are metal or plastic bars positioned along the sides of a bed. They are also known as side rails. They may extend the full length of the bed or a quarter or half length of the bed. In most nursing homes, the rails come attached to the bed.

Bed rails are used in nursing homes and long-term care facilities because they are believed to keep older adults safe. In reality, they can be extremely harmful.

There are two major dangers:

  • Strangulation and asphyxiation. Older adults can get trapped in the gap between the bed rail and the mattress. They might be too weak, frail or confused to free themselves. The mattress may press against their chest, which in an elderly person can result in strangulation and death. The elderly can also get trapped between the rails and suffocate.
  • Falls. When individuals who are confused or have dementia want to get out of bed, they may try to climb over the bed rails. This can lead to head injuries, cuts, abrasions and bruises.

Years ago, when reports of children being injured and killed by bed rails began surfacing, the CPSC acted quickly to pass safety regulations.

No similar action has been taken with regard to adult bed rails. This is so even though the New York Times has reported that 10 times or more adults than children have died in bed rail incidents.

It is believed that there are many more nursing home bed rail accidents in Kentucky and other states that have never been reported.

Sources:

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About Hughes & Coleman

Since establishing the firm of Hughes & Coleman in 1985, co-founding partners J. Marshall Hughes and Lee Coleman have been dedicated to protecting the rights and interests of Kentucky and Tennessee nursing home abuse and neglect victims as well as the families who care deeply about their elderly loved ones. This area of practice is also known as elder law or elder abuse law.

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