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Bed Rail Injuries in Nursing Homes

Bed rails are objects of intense debate in the world of healthcare. They can have extensive benefits but also end in problematic circumstances for those that experience an injury from them. Nonetheless, bed rail injuries are quite common and can be grounds for a claim or lawsuit with the help of a California bed rail injury lawyer such as Joel Bryant. Such attorneys are determined to find justice for elders afflicted by these circumstances.

What is the Purpose of Bed Rails in Nursing Care Facilities?

Bed rails are objects of strong material, usually metal or hard plastics, that prevent someone from falling off of their bed in nursing homes, assisted care facilities, and other healthcare-related buildings. Although they may be on mobile persons’ beds, they are usually intended for people who have impeded self-control, limited mobility, excess movement during sleep, and those needed to be moved for care by physicians and nurses. 

Bed rails’ primary function is to prevent falls. Sometimes, people are prone to turning and potentially falling off of their hospital beds, creating further injury. Nurses need to turn immobile folk to prevent bedsores or use the bathroom. The presence of bed rails decreases the risk that they will fall during such operations, and can be critical for elderly folk. Some of these same populations may benefit from the additional support that the bed rails provide. They may aid in getting out of bed or repositioning oneself to eat, for example.

How Can Such a Mechanism Be Unsafe to Elders? 

There are a number of reasons in which bed rails can do more harm than good for elders, especially under the current environment in the legal world of product liability. While bed rail injuries have been recorded for decades, little has changed on the part of the manufacturers concerning the warnings, designs, and safety precautions. This has been shown to produce numerous dangerous incidents:

  • Entrapment between the bed rail and the mattress is one of the most common incidents. When a substantial gap exists between the two, an elder is able to fall between them. It is uncommon for elders to be able to pull themselves out of this gap, and has created instances in which people have been either seriously injured or died from cardiac arrest or asphyxiation.
  • Another common incident has been the pinching of an appendage, as many bed rails are collapsible. Once someone has gotten an extremity caught in a bed rail, it may produce bleeding and damage to nerves or tissue. 
  • A fall over the bed rails is also a possibility, as someone who is under the influence of a drug, suffering from severe mental illness or distress, or experiencing extreme confusion may attempt to scale the bed rails without the knowledge of healthcare staff. This may lead to the painful fall of an elder.

Such occurrences are quite serious as well and can produce life-changing circumstances for elderly folk and their families. 

  • Over 50% of bed rail accidents reported to the FDA have resulted in death.
  • Around 4,000 elders receive emergency-room care for bed rail injuries every year.
  • There are over 5 million hospital and nursing-care beds in the United States currently in use, many of which do not have bed rails designed for the particular mattress or bed frame being used.

What to Do Following a Bed Rail Injury of an Elder in California

One of the first steps following the injury of an elder via bed rail in the state of California should be contacting a skilled San Diego nursing home abuse attorney. Joel Bryant is one of these lawyers, offering free case evaluations and consultations to help you determine how much compensation your family may be entitled to.