The Dangers of Bed Rails

Out of all of the dangerous places in the world, the one spot that you should feel the safest is on your own bed. Unfortunately, if you have bed rails, then danger is actually all around you.

Bed rails are “metal bars used on hospital beds and in home care to assist patients in pulling themselves up or helping them out of bed. They can also prevent people from rolling out of bed.”  However, even though they are intended to be a safety product, there is growing recognition that these rails often cause many more injuries than they prevent.

The hazard of the bed rail was learned the hard way by Clara Marshall, a woman who was suffering from dementia and moved to Waterford at FairwayVillage, an assisted living home in Washington. Marshall died five months after she was admitted due to an unsuspecting source – the bed rail. She was strangled to death when her neck got caught in side rails that prevented her from rolling out of the bed.

As reported in a story from the New York Times, her daughter, Gloria Black, was devastated by her mother’s passing and wanted to know what was being done about these dangerous rails. She contacted the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Food and Drug Administration, only to find out that both agencies were already aware of the problem. What were they doing to work on this problem? Practically nothing. Black did not back down and she continued to contact state and federal officials in search of more answers. In 2010, her search ended at the Federal Consumer Safety Commission (“Commission”) who promised to review bed rail deaths.

Even though experts contend that this type of death is unavoidable, official actions and reports indicate that bed rails are dangerous devices that should be regulated further by the government. In 1995, the FDA issued a warning about bed rails to nursing homes and home health care agencies. According to the New York Times, 550 bed rail-related deaths have occurred since these warnings were issued. In 2006, they issued voluntary guidelines. A former FDA official, Larry Kessler, claims that regulating bed rails further would have been costly and that “none of the bed rails in use at that time would have passed the suggested design standards in the guidelines if we had made them mandatory.” The FDA reported 27 bed rail-related deaths last year.

According to the Commission, 150 people have died from bed rails from 2003 to May 2012. More than 36,000 were treated for bed rail injuries in an emergency room during the same period. The problem, as contended by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) and the Commission, is most likely more severe as the cause of death or injury is not always accurately reported in hospitals, nursing homes and funeral homes. Ms. Black is now bringing suit against the assisted living home for failure to warn about the dangers of the bed rails.

If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or death due to bed rails, then you need personal injury lawyers on your side who can help you receive the compensation you deserve. Take action against those who are causing harm to you or your loved ones by discussing your situation with an experienced legal professional at today.

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