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Bedrail Entrapment

Bedrails are the most common type of physical restraint used in nursing homes today.  Bedrails were once only associated with confining residents to their bed.  Today, new bedrail designs, have been developed in order to assist residents get into and out of bed.

Even with new designs, bedrails commonly cause falls and entrapment, which may result in fractures or even death.  In order to help identify potential problems with bedrails, the FDA has identified seven ‘entrapment zones.’  The most common reasons, residents attempt to leave their beds are as follows:

  • Agitation bedpic
  • Delirium
  • Need to use bathroom
  • Pain / discomfort
  • Hunger / thirst
  • Sleep walking
  • Difficultly breathing while lying down
  • Boredom

Nursing home residents with cognitive impairment are the most likely group to be injured in an incident involving bedrails.  Nonetheless, a complete collaboration with many different departments within a nursing home is imperative in order to provide a safe and restful nights sleep for all.  Simple programs such as: implementation of scheduled toileting, administration of increased pain medication prior to bed and identification of residents with delirium can be helpful in preventing bedrail injuries.

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  • Barbara Knight

    Is the removal of bed rails a law? My dad is in a nursing home and he feels more comfortable with the rails on. He can use them to move to his side when the nurses are attending to his needs. He also uses them to pull himself on his side when his back hurts from laying on it. This should be a decision by the doctors and nursing staff on an individual basis.

  • There are no laws that apply to the use or removal of bad rails. The decision should be made by the patient, family and staff at the nursing facility. If your father is more comfortable with bed rails then they probably are appropriate.
    There have been many recent studies that do suggest patients are at an increased risk of injury due to entrapment / strangulation with bed rails.
    So perhaps, given the potential safety risk the rails could be removed when your father is not receiving treatments?

  • Christa S.

    actually it’s a law in the state of Illinois-bedrails are considered a restraint therefore are not allowed. My father just fell out of his bed at his nursing home because he has no bedrails and they can’t put them on due to this law. While I understand the information above, this seems completely ridiculous–I think this needs to be looked at on a case by case basis. NOw the nursing home has to jump through hoops to keep him safe. Padding on floor, low bed, special mattress, bed alarm and 15 min. bed checks—seems like a simple bedrail would be a lot cheaper for Medicaid.

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