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Nursing Home Bed Rail Entrapment Lawyers & Sample Cases

Attorneys for Patients Injured or Killed Due to Bed Rail Injury

patients injured or killed due to bed rail injuryWhile bed rail entrapment is a relatively rare injury to occur in a nursing home when it does happen it can be deadly. Nursing home residents are more likely than not to die when this occurs. When they are trapped, they statistically are likely to asphyxiate and get strangled to death. In most instances where a resident is seriously injured in this manner, it occurs because the facility has failed to follow regulations regarding the bedrails. 

It can also happen because the nursing facility is using an outdated bedrail that presents an additional risk to the resident. Although this section deals generally with entrapment, it will also cover other injuries and deaths that relate to bed rails, such as falls.

Skilled nursing facilities must appropriately choose the best type of bed rail for each resident. It is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. When a resident is injured by bedrail entrapment, there is a strong chance that the nursing home staff has either done something wrong or has acted negligently. If this has happened to your loved one, you should retain a bed rail entrapment attorney to take immediate legal action against the facility. In that case, you may be able to receive financial compensation if you are able to prove that either the facility's actions or their failure to act, caused your loved one’s injury.

When Are Bed Rails Used in Hospital Beds For Elderly Patients?

Some home patients may not be able to independently move on their own, but still, believe that they have that ability. Accordingly, they will try to get out of bed, but will then fall and are injured. In other instances, the resident may have dementia or Alzheimer’s and have a propensity to get out of bed and wander, subjecting them to various dangers. When this happens, there may be a need for some sort of intervention in order to reduce the risks to resident safety.

What Are a Medical Facility’s Obligations to Prevent Bedrail Injuries?

The Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued guidance for bedrails. Side rails may not be used as restraints unless it is necessary to treat a particular medical condition. Raised side rails typically act as a restraint for residents because they tend to keep the resident in bed more often. For that reason, homes must have a valid reason to use side rails. Not only are they a restraint, but they also increase the risk of entrapment and other serious injuries.

Bedrails can be used to help a resident get into and out of bed. Subject to documentation and assessment, there are helpful uses for them, provided that is not used without the proper justification. The use of restraints needs to be documented. There have been many examples of nursing facilities receiving health citations on their Medicare inspection reports because they have used bed rails without justification.

How Should Nursing Facilities Select Bed Rails for Hospital Beds?

Some of the factors that nursing facilities should consider when selecting a bed rail for the resident include:

  • The benefits of using bedrails – They can reduce some risk that the patient will fall into or getting out of bed. In addition, they can also aid in turning and repositioning in the bed which can reduce the risk of pressure ulcers.
  • Other alternatives to bedrails – Bedrails are restrictive and can be risky. Can the same ends be achieved without the use of bedrails? Is there a care program that can be instituted that can eliminate the need for the bedrails
  • The risks of bedrails – These include strangulation, more significant falls when residents try to climb over the rail, preventing patients from trying to perform activities of daily life and engendering feelings of isolation.

Nursing facilities must consult with the resident’s physician as well as the family before making this decision. Selecting bedrails is not just something that can be done without any forethought and consideration.

Statistics on Bedrail Entrapment

Bedrail entrapment will usually get reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), who is the relevant regulator overseeing bedrails. CMS will oversee the use of the bedrails in skilled nursing facilities, while the actual product is considered to be a medical device. In the period between 1985 and 2009, there were 803 incidents where nursing home residents or hospital patients were entrapped. 480 people died as a result and another 138 were injured.

This means that residents are more likely to die than not when they experience bedrail entrapment. Exacerbating the injury and fatality rates is the fact that nursing home residents are frail and may not be able to dislodge themselves when they are trapped in the manner that a healthy person would.

Separately, there are also reports to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. From 2003 to 2012, there were 143 deaths from bedrail entrapment. An overwhelming majority of these deaths occurred in those over the age of 60.

What Happens When a Resident is Trapped Between a Mattress and Bedrail?

Residents will most often have their heads wedged between the mattress and the bedrail. Alternatively, they can have their heads stuck between the bedrails. This largely impacts the head and the neck. Most commonly, the airflow will be cut off for the resident because they cannot breathe. Falls are another deadly thing that occurs. Residents may attempt to climb over the bedrails to get out of the bed. This will involve them climbing to a higher elevation. When they fall from this elevation, they have a high likelihood of falling on their heads or hurting their necks. These falls are often deadly. The risks of injury become more pronounced when the resident is disoriented for whatever reason.

Where is the Nursing Home’s Potential Liability?

There are several theories under which a nursing facility can be found liable for bed rail entrapment injuries.

  • The facility failed to justify the use of the bedrail in the first place
  • The nursing home staff did not adequately supervise the use of the bed rail
  • The facility should have found the resident entrapped in enough time to free them
  • The medical facility purchased a defective bedrail
Sample Bedrail Entrapment Lawsuits and Regulatory Actions Taken Against Skilled Nursing Facilities

Fine in Minnesota – There were media reports of a resident who asphyxiated when her head was caught between the mattress and a grab bar. The facility apparently did not have a policy about the size of mattresses and bed handles in order to reduce the risk of bed rail entrapment. The resident was found face down in her bed and not breathing. The state recommended that a fine be assessed against the operator.

Lawsuit Filed in Vermont – A 95-year old woman died when her head became trapped between her bed rail and an air mattress. According to the lawsuit, the death was caught by an improper bed height, the facility’s failure to re-evaluate bed choice based on changes to the resident’s health and an understaffing of the facility on the night that the resident died. The facility represented that the resident fell on the death certificate although they were cited by the state for violations relating to bedding.

Fine in Pennsylvania – An 89-year old man died when his neck became trapped in the bedrails. The resident was found on the floor with their neck trapped between the mattress and the rails. The nursing home received a substantial fine in connection with this incident.

Lawsuit Filed in Massachusetts (2007) – A resident slid in her bed. When this happened, her chin became wedged between the bedrail and the mattress. The wrongful death lawsuit claimed that there was a gap between the bedrail and the mattress and the staff should have known this because they found the resident in a similar position several days before she died.

Jury Verdict for $300,000 in California (2006) – The resident, whose bedrails had a history of defects, was found dead on the floor of her room. There was no concrete evidence that the resident had suffocated and no autopsy was performed. Nevertheless, the jury found the nursing home responsible for the death and made an award to the resident’s family.

Settlement for $570,000 in Illinois (2009) – The resident was found with her head trapped between the bed and the bedrail. The family filed a wrongful death lawsuit claiming their family member was trapped when the nursing home staff has put bedrails on her bed unnecessarily. The women asphyxiated.

Has Your Loved One Been Injured in a Nursing Home by Bedrail Entrapment? Get Legal Help Now

The nursing home abuse attorneys at the Nursing Home Law Center can help your family get the justice that they deserve in the form of financial compensation from the nursing home where your loved one was injured. We can help you with the entire legal process that is necessary for your family to obtain a financial settlement from filing the claim all the way through litigation if necessary. Contact us today so we can discuss your bed rail injury case with you. The consultation will not cost you anything and you pay us nothing unless we are able to help you get compensation. Call us today at (800) 726-9565 and let us use our expertise and track record to the benefit of you and your family.

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After I read Jonathan’s Nursing Home Blog, I decided to hire him to look into my wife’s treatment at a local nursing home. Jonathan did a great job explaining the process and the laws that apply to nursing homes. I immediately felt at ease and was glad to have him on my side. Though the lawsuit process was at times frustrating, Jonathan reassured me, particularly at my deposition. I really felt like Jonathan cared about my wife’s best interests, and I think that came across to the lawyers for the nursing home. Eric