In most nursing homes, the bed provided to the resident can be equipped with side rails. Many people are surprised to learn that side rails are not used as a matter of course. In truth, there are real dangers associated with the use of side rails in beds provided to nursing home residents.
Improper use of side rails as restraints
It is not proper to use a side rail as a restraint. Side rails were at one time used as a restraint to keep residents who were fall risks from getting out of bed. Not only is that commonly recognized as an improper use of a restraint, it also poses a huge safety risk in that residents who are confronted with a side rail will often try to climb over the top of the them, resulting in a serious fall. This is a difficult feat for a nursing home resident to accomplish and often will result in a fall from a greater height with the increased risk of fracture and other injury.
Risk of side rail entrapment
The other risk that is associated with the use of side rails in nursing home beds is that there will not be a proper fit between the mattress and the side rail. An improper fit between the mattress and the side rail creates a risk of entrapment, which can result in a variety of injuries from fracture to suffocation. If side rails are going to be placed in use, the nursing home staff must be certain that there is no gap between the mattress and the side rail where the resident or his/her body can become entrapped or entangled.
Improper maintenance of side rails
A third risk that side rails pose for nursing home residents is that they are improperly maintained or installed improperly. It is reasonable to anticipate that resident will be handling the side rails, pulling themselves up right with it or using the to reposition themselves in bed or to hold themselves in position while receiving care from the nursing home staff. If the side rails are not properly maintained or installed, they can cause injury while being used by the residents.