Articles Posted in Bed Rail

Unfortunately, every day brings new stories about horrific instances of elder abuse and mistreatment. While any form of elder abuse is unacceptable, our San Diego nursing home abuse attorneys know that many instances of abuse or neglect may go undetected because they may not seem to be obviously caused by mistreatment. For example, our lawyers recently explained the important connection between nurse staffing ratios, quality of care at long-term nursing facilities, and elder abuse. It is tragic when one’s loved ones are harmed when the people entrusted with their care fail to adhere to the standard of care.

Under California elder abuse law, caregivers must provide the degree of care that a reasonable person in a similar position would exercise. This includes providing medical care appropriate for a senior’s physical and mental health needs. It also includes protecting elders from health and safety hazards. Skilled nursing home facilities typically have written care plans or nursing care protocols they must follow in order to ensure they are complying with the standard of care. The failure to follow a care plan can lead to serious injury or death, and can be the basis of a San Diego elder neglect lawsuit. wheelchair%202.jpg

Sadly, not all nursing home workers follow the protocols established to ensure the safety of their patients. According to Wood TV, a family is suing a nursing home facility over the death of their mother. The elderly woman died when her tracheostomy tube got caught around a bed rail and became dislodged. A tracheostomy tube provides an air passage to help a person when the usual route for breathing is obstructed or impaired in some way. Because of her size, the woman was supposed to have the help of two nursing home assistants to ensure that her tracheostomy tube did not dislodge. However, when the accident occurred only one assistant was helping the woman.


Many elderly people use them in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and the product in their own homes. They are “bed handles,” manufactured and sold by a company called Bed Handles, Inc, a bedside rail of sorts created to allow users easier ingress and egress from bed. Now, Public Citizen, the non-partisan consumer advocacy group, is announcing that the bed rails are dangerous to consumers.

“Contrary to the manufacturer’s claim that the Bedside Assistant bed handles make any bed a safer bed, data previously provided to the FDA demonstrate that these devices can turn a bed into a death trap for patients who are physically weak or have physical or mental impairments,” said Dr. Michael Carome, deputy director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group.

The bed handles, which look similar to bed rails, can trap elderly or frail individuals, and can even cause strangulation or asphyxiation. According to Public Citizen, a review of public records has revealed that four people have been killed using the device since 1999 after the handles slipped out of place, creating a gap where the user can slide into.

Last week, Public Citizen has submitted a petition to the US Food and Drug Administration asking the agency to order a recall of the bedside device, and to issue a ban of all further sales. [Click Here to Read the Petition .pdf]
Click here to read the entire Public Citizen press release.

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The California Department of Public Health issued its most severe citation to a California nursing home following the death of a 97-year-old resident. According to reports, the Gramercy Court nursing home patient fell out of her bed and onto the floor while a nursing assistant had her back to the patient. The resident suffered a spinal injury and died a short time later.

State investigators said the fall could have been prevented if the bed rail, which was ordered, had been in place. As a result, a AA citation was issued against the facility, and a $90,000 fine assessed. The maximum fine allowable under California law is $100,000.

To read the entire AA citation, CLICK HERE (.pdf).

Bed rail entrapment is not a rare occurrence in the hospital and nursing home setting. Despite repeated warnings from consumer groups and the FDA, nursing facilities across the country are using hospital beds that violate well known FDA dimensional guideline addressing safe hospital beds and bed rails, creating in increased risk of suffocation and asphyxia.

The FDA has identified seven zones of entrapment, and made recommendations as to the acceptable dimensions of those zones to avoid entrapment hazards. Walton Law Firm LLP recently handled the case of an elderly woman who was found dead sitting on the floor next to her bed with her head wedged between the bars of her bed rail. She was literally hanging from the bed rail. The firm brought a lawsuit against the facility and the bed rail manufacturer for violations of FDA guidelines and other acts of negligence.

For those interested in learning more about the bedrail entrapment, and the identified zones, click here to see a diagram of the zones of entrapment. The video below is also an excellent instructional aid on the various ways a person can become entrapped in a hospital bed.

An Alzheimer’s patient was strangled by her bedrail while residing at an assisted living facility. She slid off her bed, became trapped between the mattress and the bed rail, and died from positional asphyxia. Bed rails, often used to prevent injuries, can be deadly if not used properly and under the right circumstances. Currently there are many defective bedrails on the market whose dimensions do not meet the current FDA recommendations. Walton Law Firm represents the family of the 90-year-old woman who is pursuing a claim against the residential care facility for the improper use of bed rails, and against the manufacturer and distributor for producing and supplying defective bedrails.

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