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Untold Dangers Of Hospital Bedrails

A hospice patient close to the end of his life was found dead in his bed at an assisted living facility on Christmas morning in 2004 – not totally shocking for this 75-year-old man in declining health.  What was shocking was the way he died.  His head was entrapped between his mattress and the bed rail.  The cause of death was asphyxiation.

The family has filed suit against the facility for negligence. The care facility claims it gave proper care to the patient.

Of the 17,000 nursing homes housing 1.5 million elderly and disabled Americans, 5,300 of them were cited for nursing home violations between January 1999 to January 2001.  Close to a third of the charges were “serious enough to cause actual harm to residents or to place the residents in immediate jeopardy of death or serious injury,” according to a congressional report.  If your elderly loved one has been injured while in the care of a nursing home or other healthcare facility, contact Munley, Munley & Cartwright today. You and your family have legal rights that not only protect you, but others as well.

In 1995, the FDA released its first safety alert about hospital beds with side rails entrapments. In 2006, after receiving 691 entrapment reports covering a 21 year period, the FDA issued recommendations intended to reduce life-threatening entrapments. The FDA identified the patients’ body parts which could be at risk as well as the locations of the hospital bed rails and entrapment areas. Of the reported cases, 413 people died, 120 were injured, and 159 had no injuries because they were found in time.

According to an article in the New York Times, bed rails were designed as a safety device and do decrease the risk of falling by 10-15 percent.  However, a study from the University of Minnesota found they increase the risk of injury by about 20 percent.

Confused or demented patients may try to climb over the rails and fall from a greater height, usually landing on their heads. The greater danger is entrapment – patients drop into the gap between the mattress and the rail and the mattress slides to the other side of the bed.  The patient drops into the gap and he can’t breathe.  Asphyxiation follows in minutes.

If you have had a serious injury or a loved one has died as a result of entrapment in a bed side rail, please call the experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys at Munley, Munley & Cartwright, P.C.   Our consultations are at no charge and we can be reached at 1-800-318-LAW1 or online.

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