Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) warnings on bedrail safety have prompted many manufacturers to design safer beds that minimize the risk of entrapment, many nursing homes continue to place their residents in outdated beds with unsafe rail designs.
Nursing homes that do have upgraded beds often still have older models in some rooms, since there is little incentive to rid the facility of any usable bed. Adding to the risk of serious or fatal injury from entrapment are rental beds from medical supply companies. Not only are the rental beds typically those with more outdated designs, but they are often sent to nursing homes with mismatched parts. In other words, the mattress and bedrails may be from different manufactures, putting the resident at risk of getting trapped in the space between the mattress and frame.
Among other areas in which a patient can become entrapped, according to the FDA, are:
- Between the bars on the bedrail
- Under the rail
- Under the end of the bedrail (which occurs when side rails are designed to raise too high)
- Between splits in the rails (when rails have two or more separated parts on each side of the bed)
- Between the rail and the footboard or headboard
- Between the mattress and the footboard or headboard
With the risk of injury from bedrail entrapment high in nursing homes, nurses and other staff must inspect each bed for potential hazards, making sure that the mattress fits properly within the frame (without extra space) and that no gaps are created when the bed is raised.
Injuries or death from entrapment may lead to a legal claim against the nursing facility or the manufacturer, depending on the details of the case.