Are Bed Rails Safe for the Elderly?

Are Bed Rails Safe for the Elderly?

The metal or plastic bars that run along the side of a bed are known as bed rails, sometimes known as side rails. The rails could be a full length or just a quarter or a half of the length of the bed. It can be used by some persons to pull themselves up, turn in bed, or get out of bed. Others might employ a bed rail in the hopes that it will stop a dementia patient from getting out of bed and wandering or stop an elderly person from slipping out of bed.

As part of a “bed system,” certain rails are fixed to the mattress. There are plastic bars that are part of a bed system on hospital beds, in the majority of nursing homes, and in businesses that sell medical supplies. Additionally, users can buy portable plastic bars directly from manufacturers and connect them to beds.

What Makes Bed Rails Risky?

Bed rails are frequently used in homes and long-term care facilities since it is believed that they keep patients safe. The plastic bar can be very harmful. Older people run the risk of suffocation or strangling if they get trapped between the plastic bag and the mattress, which can happen when bed railings are present. When someone falls into a gap, they might not be able to get out because they are too weak, bewildered, or feeble. The person’s chest could be squeezed by the mattress, making it difficult for them to breathe. This has rapid death consequences. Older folks run the risk of suffocating if they get wedged between the plastic bar.

Serious injury: People with dementia or confusion who want to get out of bed but are blocked by the plastic bar usually try to climb over the railings. This may cause them to stumble, strike their heads, and suffer serious injury. An elderly person becoming confined can also cause injuries like cuts, abrasions, and bruises.

Reports of Deaths and Injury from Bed Rails: 155 deaths involving it were reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) between January 2003 and September 2012. You may read the CPSC’s memo on reports of adult bed rail-related deaths, injuries, and possible injuries that the agency received, which was published in October 2012, here. The report showed that there were around 36,900 during nine years.

What can be done to safeguard elderly people from hazardous bed rails?

Establish safety regulations: There are no regulatory requirements for adult bed railings, even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have both received hundreds of reports of injuries and fatalities linked to side rails.

Recall hazardous equipment: Bed rails that have killed or wounded senior citizens are still available. No action is taken even though these bed rails continue to hurt or kill people. The unsafe bed rails that have been identify as having hazards of entrapment, asphyxiation, or other problems must be removed from the market by the FDA and CPSC using their authority to recall products.

Address questions of jurisdiction: Which organization has jurisdiction over the various kinds of bed rails is a point of contention between the FDA and the CPSC. To protect vulnerable older persons, these authorities must collaborate to address any jurisdictional conflicts.

Various Bed Rail Replacements

Fall injury risks can be decreased in safer ways. These consist of:

  • Bringing the bed as close to the ground as you can. An adjustable-height bed may be raised for care and transfers and lowered to the floor for sleeping.
  • By the side of the bed, place non-slip mattress pads or another padding to absorb any potential falls.
  • Using a secure vertical pole to help with bed entry and exit, assisting with a bed trapeze