It is sometimes difficult for frail elderly to get in and out of bed. Other elderly people may thrash in bed. This may put them in danger of falling out of bed. Many nursing homes and residential caregivers rely on bed rails in order to promote mobility, safety, and to encourage independence. However, bed rails may be a hazard if they are improperly used or manufactured. Should this occur the nursing homes may be liable for medical malpractice and the manufacture can be liable for product liability.
Nearly 37,000 people have been treated at hospital emergency rooms for injuries that have been associated with bed-rail accidents between 2003 and 2011. Of these incidents one hundred and fifty-five of the people died. However, since there might be a failure to report the actual cause of injury or death, the numbers are likely higher.
There are two types of common bed rail injuries. An older adult may become trapped in the gap between the bed rail and the mattress, or between the rails. This can cause strangulation or asphyxiation. Unfortunately, the elderly person may be too weak, frail, or confused to change their position and save themselves. Other times, an elderly individual may attempt to get out of bed by trying to climb over the rails. As a result the elderly person could fall and become injured. They can also suffer skin bruising, cuts, and scrapes.
During their intake process nursing homes are required to assess their resident’s needs. To assist with patient mobility and ensure their safety bed rails may be used. When a nursing home and fails to monitor the safe usage of bed rails, does not switch out the defective equipment, or consider alternative measures such as lowering the bed or using safety mats, they may be liable for medical malpractice.
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