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Adult bedrails may be a hazard to nursing home residents

Consumers rely on products to function as advertised. In the case of safety products, in particular, it only seems fair to expect that an increase in safety would result from proper usage. Yet a recent article suggests that safety bed rails, intended as a preventative measure against accidents involving bed-ridden, frail or weak patients, may actually put such patients in more danger.

Due to the high volume of consumer complaints, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert for bedrails attached to hospital beds in 1995. Yet despite that warning, injuries from the devices continue to occur. 

Between 2003 and 2012, for example, almost 37,000 people had to go to the emergency room due to an injury arising from adult portable bedrails. In 155 of those cases, the injuries proved fatal. Notably, a large portion of the reported injuries occurred in nursing home or assisted living settings.

One commentator points to a lack of regulation as explanation for the high injury rates. Whereas cribs and bedrails for children’s beds must pass certain safety tests, the same requirements may not apply to adult bedrails.

Although a personal injury attorney might agree that a product liability action might be one option for injured consumers, another option might be a personal injury lawsuit against a nursing home that failed to properly supervise elder residents in beds equipped with the adult rails. Whether the issue was improper installation or inadequate supervision, an attorney might have strategies for uncovering those at fault and determining whether nursing home neglect was a contributing factor.

Source: miamiherald.com, “As feds ponder solutions, bedrails pose deadly hazard to frail, elderly, mentally impaired,” Lindsay Wise, Oct. 8, 2013

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