Bed Rail Entrapment
There is substantial literature on the risk of bedrail (or side rail) entrapment, including death associated with bed rails. The bed manufacturing, distributing, and rental industry, and the professional user community (hospitals, nursing homes, residential care facilities, assisted living, etc.) have had repeated warnings of the risk of entrapment since at least 1995, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to hospital bed manufacturers entitled "FDA Safety Alert: Entrapment Hazards with Hospital Bed Side Rails."
The FDA warning instructed its recipients to integrate inspecting of hospital bed frames, side rails, and mattresses into regular maintenance programs to determine possible entrapment areas so that entrapment does not occur, regardless of dimensions of the mattress.
Because of the growing concern over bed rail deaths, the FDA sponsored the Hospital Bed Safety Workgroup (HSBW), a group of industry representatives, with the goal of improving the safety of hospital beds, and to develop dimensional guidelines, measurement tools, and educational materials to assist manufacturers, caregivers and consumers.
The first draft of dimensional guidelines was available in 2001, an additional draft was issued in 2004, and the final non-binding guidelines were issued in March 2006. Each draft and the final guidelines distributed by the HBSW addressed the body parts at risk by bed rails, and the zones of potential entrapment. The drafts and final guidelines set forth acceptable dimensional limits of space within these zones, including the space within the rail, and the space between the rail and mattress.
A diagram of the "zones of entrapment" can be found here.
Yet despite the awareness of the dimensional guidelines created with the singular purpose of reducing the risk of bed rail entrapment, the hospital bed industry continued to manufacture and distribute bed rails that it knew failed to meet the FDA standards.
Any injury or death where the bed rail is implicated should be thoroughly investigated. Walton Law Firm has successfully prosecuted in civil courts the manufacturer of bed rails, those who distribute defective bed rails, and the nursing facilities that use them. If you have questions about an incident involving bed rails, please submit your confidential question online, or call Walton Law Firm for a free and private consultation. We can be reached toll free at (866) 607-1325 or locally at (760) 607-1325.