It’s disconcerting when a piece of equipment supposedly designed to address older adults’ medical needs results in harm. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the U.S. Food & Drug Administration reveal reports of injuries and deaths caused by adult portable bedrails.
Bedrails are assistive apparatuses that can be removable or permanently attached to a bed. They come in assorted styles and sizes, but all serve as a support system for older adults in nursing homes.
However, there are cases when nursing home residents fail to monitor bedrail use appropriately. Ohio even created the Abuse, Neglect, Misappropriation, and Exploitation Program to address such concerns. So, when tragic risks outweigh the benefits, how is bedrail use optimized?
Use with caution
Before bedrail use, a careful assessment of the patient’s needs must be a top priority. After which, weighing the pros and cons must be next to ensure patient safety.
Overall, bedrails function as medical devices facilitating patient mobility. Patients can hold on to bedrails to comfortably reach around or move in and out of their beds. For patients with sleeping problems, urinary or defecation incontinence and other conditions related to involuntary movement, bedrails can also minimize the threat of falling out of bed.
Conversely, it is also likely that bedrails cause entrapment, strangulation and suffocation. Patients, especially those suffering from physical disabilities and mental conditions, can accidentally get stuck in between. A body part caught in the middle of the rails can result in cuts, scrapes and bruises.
In contentious cases, nursing homes argue that bedrails can be physical restraints to protect wandering patients from potential hazards. But advocacy groups encourage further deliberation if safe care can do away with restrictive procedures.
Balanced nursing home care
Nursing homes must observe extra vigilance in delivering reasonable care to their patients and following facility protocols. Seniors or their surviving loved ones can file a personal injury claim if nursing home residents demonstrate neglect of duty concerning bedrail use.