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Dulaney, Lauer & Thomas

Falls and Entrapment: the danger of bed rails in Virginia nursing homes

Bed rails are a controversial subject in Virginia nursing homes.  Some people believe that bed rails on a bed protect elderly or infirm patients from falling; however statistics show that this is not the case.

Bed rails were once commonly used in nursing homes and assisted living facilities to keep elderly or demented patients safely in bed, however over the years it became clear that they do more harm than good.  Studies have found that while bed rails reduce the risk of a fall by 10 to 15 percent, they increase the risk of injury by about 20 percent.  How is this possible?

Potential bed rail injuries

 Bed rails can cause injuries in several ways:

  • Residents can become entrapped between the mattress and the bed rail, and asphyxiate.
  • Disoriented residents can climb over bed rails to get out of their beds, thus falling from a higher level and incurring worse injuries (usually by hitting their head hard on the ground).
  • Residents can get trapped in the bed rails themselves and break a bone or asphyxiate.

Virginia nursing homes should know about bed rail dangers

If bed rails are so dangerous, why are they still in use – and don’t Virginia nursing homes know that they are bad?  First, bed rails are still in use as some facilities believe that they do more harm than good.  If bed rails are used, the mattress must fit tightly against the bed rails on both sides, so there is no chance of a resident being caught between the mattress and the rails.  However, this does not eliminate the danger of a high fall if the resident is able to climb over the rails.

Second, nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Virginia should be aware of bed rail dangers.  In 1995 the FDA issued a bed rail entrapment warning, and in 2006 the FDA issued guidelines with the intention to reduce or eliminate bed rail use.  Because of this, there is no excuse for any nursing home or assisted living facility to use bed rails in an unsafe manner – or at all.

Get help with your Virginia bed rail entrapment or bed rail fall case

If you have a loved one who was hurt or killed because of bed rails in nursing home or assisted living facility, then you deserve justice.  Please contact either our Culpeper or Warrenton office to find out how we can help you secure fair compensation and hold the facility responsible so no other residents are hurt in the same way.