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Bed Rail Entrapment in Nursing Homes

Bed rail entrapment is a silent killer in nursing homes and medical facilities. Alarming incidents of asphyxiation and strangulation have been reported due to entrapment between the bed rail and the frame.

With 2.5 million hospital and nursing home beds in the U.S., the risk of serious injuries and death due to bed rail entrapment is escalating among nursing home residents.

Many nursing facilities have outdated and illegal bed rail systems that present an additional risk to the resident. In many incidents, residents are severely injured when facilities failed to follow established protocols for using restraints and bed rails.

patients injured or killed due to bed rail injury

Attorneys for Nursing Home Residents Injured or Killed Due To Bed Rail Injuries

Did you or a family member suffer injuries or your loved one died from bed rail entrapment? If so, our bed rail entrapment attorneys can take immediate action against the facility. Let us review your bed rail injury case and gather evidence to prove your compensation claim for medical bills and other damages.

The personal injury attorneys at Nursing Home Law Center, LLC, represent nursing home abuse and neglect cases where residents are harmed through negligence, abuse, and medical malpractice.

Contact our nursing home abuse lawyers at (800) 926-7565 for a free case review to explore your legal options.

Prevention Of Bed Rail Entrapment Injuries

As nursing facilities choose the appropriate type of bed rail for each resident, staff must consider many factors. An ongoing assessment must be made of the resident’s physical and mental capacity when considering the use of each type of bed rail.

The Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued safety guidelines for the use of bed rails (metal rails). Side rails might not be used as restraints unless it is necessary to treat a particular medical condition, such as raised side rails used as a preventative measure to keep residents from falling out of bed.

Side rails can increase the risk of entrapment and lead to severe injuries as a restraint, and their usage needs to be documented. Some nursing facilities have received health citations on their Medicare inspections because they have used bed rails without justification.

Subject to proper documentation and assessment, the use of bed rails can be beneficial and can assist residents in getting into and out of hospital beds.


Statistics On Bed Rail Entrapment

  • Bed rail entrapment will usually be reported to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as the relevant government regulator overseeing bed rail use.
  • Governmental safety alerts regarding bed rails have been used for over twenty years.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also govern bedrails in skilled nursing facilities, while the actual product is considered a medical device.
  • Statistics reveal that residents are more likely to die than not when they experience bedrail entrapment.
  • A report regarding portable bed rails found that between January 2013 and September 2020, 160 incidents of entrapment had been reported about these devices, including 155 fatalities.
  • Between 1995 and January 1, 2019, 803 incidents of patients and residents caught, trapped, entangled, or strangled in beds with rails were reported to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Of these FDA entrapment reports, 480 people died, 138 had nonfatal bed rail injuries, and 185 were not injured because staff intervened to prevent injuries.
  • Most patients in the entrapment reports were frail, elderly, or confused.
  • Separately, there are also reports to the Consumer Products Safety Commission from 2013 to 2020, with 143 deaths from bed rail entrapment.
  • An overwhelming majority of these bed rail entrapment deaths occurred in those over sixty.

Potential Entrapment Risk of A Bed Frame And Side Rail

Common injuries and risks of bed rails for nursing home residents are:

  • Strangling or suffocating entrapment risk when patients are caught between rails, between the bedrails and mattress, between split bed rails, or between the rail and side edge of the headboard
  • Risk of bodily injury when patients or part of their body are caught between rails or between the bedrails and mattress, especially the neck, chest, and head
  • Head injury when residents hit their heads against the side edge of the head/footboard
  • Severe risk of falling injuries, especially head trauma, when residents climb over rails
  • Entrapment injuries risk such as skin bruising, cuts, and scrapes
  • Risk of inducing agitated behavior when bed rails are used as physical restraints
  • Risk of entrapment when feeling isolated or unnecessarily restricted
  • Risk of preventing patients who can get out of bed from performing routine activities such as going to the bathroom or retrieving something from a closet

The FDA has a Hospital Bed System Dimensional and Assessment Guidance to Reduce Entrapment that is available online for nursing home employees to view images of various types of entrapment in care facility and hospital beds.

Nursing home staff can reduce entrapment and serious injuries and promote the bed safety of many nursing home residents with regular cursory checks on their beds and mattresses to identify a potential entrapment risk.

Bed Rails Entrapment Injuries FAQs

Our personal injury attorneys understand that many families have unanswered questions when dealing directly with nursing homes and insurance companies when their loved one sustains bed rail entrapment injuries. A lawyer from our law offices has answered some of those questions below.

Contact our affiliate lawyers at the Nursing Home Law Center, LLC at (800) 926-7565 for additional information.


Has Your Loved One Been Injured in A Nursing Home By Bedrail Entrapment? Talk To an Experienced Attorney

Were you or any family members injured in a bedrail accident? The personal injury law firm of Nursing Home Law Center, LLC can get the justice your family deserves.

Our attorneys will manage your nursing home abuse case and pursue a financial settlement for medical expenses and further losses through a negotiated settlement or jury trial award.

Contact our Cook County law firm today at (800) 926-7565 (toll-free phone call) or through the contact form to schedule a free consultation.

All discussions and sensitive information shared remains secure and confidential through an attorney-client relationship.

Our lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis, so you only have to pay us an attorney fee for our legal services if we win your case involving personal injuries.


Bed Rails Entrapment Injuries FAQs

What Are Alternatives to Bedrails?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends other bed rail alternatives, including lowering the bed frame, adding foam bumpers, or rolling guards. Some nursing facilities use concave mattresses to reduce entrapment and the potential of a nursing home resident or patient rolling off the hospital bed.

Nursing facilities often violate federal and state laws by using bed frame side rails instead of monitoring or supervising residents. Bed railing poses a high entrapment risk of the patient falling or becoming entangled and can lead to personal injury.

What Are Bed Rail Entrapment Accidents?

Bed rail entrapment occurs with older, frail, and infirm adults with limited mobility when the nursing home installs improperly fitted bed rails or grab bars. The victim's chest, head or neck can quickly become trapped between the bed frame and the side rail or rail supports when there are large openings or gaps.

Residents can also suffer bed entrapment:

Between the rail supports or the bars of the split-side rails Between the separate side rails Locked between the mattress and the rail on the side Stuck between the footboard, the side rail, or the head rail Between the end of the rail and the side edge of the headboard When bed rails are used with an incorrect mattress When bed rails are used with the wrong bed

When a nursing home resident is commonly harmed from bedrail entrapment, it can cause -

  • Delirium
  • Agitation
  • Uncontrolled body movement
  • Acute urinary retention
  • Pain
  • Confusion
  • Fecal impaction
When Should Bed Rails Be Used?

Nursing homes must only use bed rails when:

  • Following the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidelines for their patients, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Residents with severe medical and mental conditions, including incontinence, sleeping issues, memory problems, uncontrolled body movement, pain, and with assisted walking, undergo continuous assessments by doctors and nursing staff to ensure their safety with bed rails.
  • The nursing facility ensures the resident is an appropriate candidate for bed rails.

Bedrails should never be a substitute for the required regular monitoring of residents, especially for individuals with a high risk of falls. A nursing home facility failing to do so would be liable for nursing home negligence.

Why Are Bed Rails Dangerous in Nursing Homes?
According to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), installed bed railings can be extremely dangerous to nursing home residents. The staff and doctors must follow established safety guidelines and regulations in treating elderly residents in nursing facilities and hospitals. The FDA stated that over 4000 facility residents annually receive treatment and local emergency rooms for bed rail-related trauma. The FDA also revealed that half of all reports on bed railing accidents involve wrongful death. Many of these victims were found lodged between the bed frame and the railing resulting in their death.
How Do You Prevent Bed-Railing Trauma?

If you visit your loved one or family member in a nursing home, check the following to prevent bed entrapment and ensure bed safety:

  • Staff have professionally installed the bed railing, ensuring hospital bed safety
  • The bed mattresses can be pushed as far away from the rails as possible to see if you can stick at least four fingers between the mattress and rails
  • Staff regularly inspect bed frames, mattresses, and accessories to ensure the correct functioning of equipment.
  • One or more sections of the side rail, such as the foot rail can be lowered
  • Proper-size mattresses or mattresses with raised foam edges on beds are used to prevent residents from being trapped between the mattress and rail.
  • Gaps between the solid or air mattress and side rails are reduced
  • Bed frames and bed rails are fitted with the correct hospital bed. Many side rails are installed, disassembled, and reassembled in nursing facilities, leading to the wrong mattress on the wrong bed

The Hospital Bed Safety Workshop – or HBSW – has developed mitigation guidelines and assessment guidance to help long-term care facilities reduce entrapment risks in existing hospital bed systems or legacy beds.

The bed entrapment assessment guidelines are intended to be used along with clinical resident assessments and focus on modifying current beds to prevent residents and elderly patients from self-harm.

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