Bed Rail Injury and Death by Asphyxiation

Bed-rails are used by many people to help create a supportive sleeping environment in nursing homes, assisted living facilities and residential care facilities.  The bed-rails are designed to prevent a resident from falling out of bed, but they often cause harm and death including by asphyxiation.

Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the potential risks of bed rails include:

  • Strangling, suffocating, bodily injury or death when patients or part of their body are caught between rails or between the bed rails and mattress.
  • More serious injuries from falls when patients climb over rails.
  • Skin bruising, cuts, and scrapes.
  • Inducing agitated behavior when bed rails are used as a restraint.
  • Feeling isolated or unnecessarily restricted.
  • Preventing patients, who are able to get out of bed, from performing routine activities such as going to the bathroom or retrieving something from a closet.

According to the FDA, many death and injury reports related to entrapment and falls for both adult portable bed rail products and hospital bed rails have been reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). All bed rails should be used with caution, especially with older adults and people with altered mental status, physical limitations and certain medical conditions.

Currently, the FDA reports there are about 2.5 million hospital and nursing home beds in use in the United States and between 1985 and January 1, 2009, 803 incidents of patients caught, trapped, entangled, or strangled in beds with rails were reported to them. Of these reports, 480 people died, 138 had a nonfatal injury, and 185 were not injured because staff intervened. Most patients were frail, elderly or confused.

At Olsman MacKenzie Peacock & Wallace we represent clients in cases involving catastrophic injury caused by nursing homes and care facilities that do not properly monitor their residents care and safety. If you believe your loved one has been harmed because a nursing home and its employees were negligent, please call us at 1.800.366.8653 for a free consultation.