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3 ways to prevent bed rail problems

November 18, 2013
by Lois A. Bowers, Senior Editor
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Three steps can help prevent injury or death related to adult bed rails, according to a new poster made available by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Nursing, maintenance, custodial and other employees may find this information helpful:

  • Consider whether use of a bed rail is appropriate for those in your care.
  • Ensure that the bed rail is properly installed.
  • Check daily for rail slippage and gaps, which can cause entrapment.

From January 1985 to January 2013, 531 adults died because they were caught, trapped, entangled or strangled in hospital bed rails, according to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) data cited on the poster. Most of those people were frail, elderly and confused.

From January 2003 to September 2012, 155 deaths occurred associated with portable bed rails for adults, according to CPSC data. Ninety-three percent of the cases involved rail entrapment, and most of the affected adults were aged 60 or more years.

A Spanish language version of the poster also is available.

The FDA offers a guide for bed and bed rail safety in nursing homes and other healthcare settings. In June at the request of the CPSC and the FDA, ASTM International convened an international committee to establish new voluntary guidelines for use of adult portable bed rails. The committee's work is still in progress.

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