A medical bed rail is intended as a safety feature, but in some cases they can injure or even kill unsuspecting healthcare patients. Health-compromised patients can awaken to find themselves in a completely vulnerable situation known as bed entrapment that is both terrifying and potentially lethal.
When a hospital bed has a mattress that is too small for the bed frame, an unsuspecting patient can accidentally become wedged in the open space between the mattress and the bed frame. The patient can easily suffocate in this position or awake to find themselves in a horrifically painful and harmful predicament.
Bed entrapment has injured 12 and caused three deaths during the last three years, according to a Health Canada report. To help reduce or prevent this type of hazard, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued several reference tools about the risk of using bedrails. The FDA revealed an entirely avoidable situation in which the failure to communicate was the primary cause of bed entrapment injury or death.
Facility personnel have a share of responsibility when a person under their care gets injured or killed due to a lack of adequate patient monitoring. However, the FDA also found that many facility personnel lack training or knowledge about bed equipment. Further complicating the problem is a fundamental lack of warnings or updates from manufacturers with regard to known hazards. There is no legal requirement for bed manufacturers to notify facilities of incidents associated with their products, and few do so.
In the meantime, patients and patient families are encouraged to take precautions by reviewing available literature about medical bed equipment. But the responsibility doesn’t end there.
The lack of laws regarding a manufacturer’s duty with regard to warning their customers does not alleviate them of responsibility for the harm inflicted on a patient who trusted their own bed was safe. Nor can the medical facility avoid their duty to adequately oversee patients in their direct care.
If you or someone you know has been harmed in a bed entrapment incident, please comment about it below or contact us about the situation.