It had always taken Mother some time to get settled when she went to bed. That night, I thought I heard her coughing a bit, but after a few moments, she quieted down. Just to be sure she was asleep, I peeked into her room. I was horrified to find her body wedged between the mattress and bed rail. She did not have the strength to free herself, and because she was gasping for breath, couldn’t even cry out for help. I always thought that the bed rails gave Mother extra safety and security. Sadly, I found that not to be the case. Mother was alright this time, but I was determined to not let it happen again.
The FDA cites that from January 1, 1985 to January 1, 2010, there were 828 reported incidents of patients caught, trapped, entangled, or strangled in hospital beds. The reports included 493 deaths, 141 nonfatal injuries, and 194 cases where staff needed to intervene to prevent injuries. Most patients were frail, elderly or confused. In order to reduce and eliminate the risk, the FDA partnered with many excellent organizations to form the Hospital Bed Safety Workgroup.
According to the FDA, beds with rails should be assessed when:
- there is reason to believe that some components are worn (e.g., rails wobble, rails have been damaged, mattresses are softer) and could cause increased spaces within the bed system,
- when accessories such as mattress overlays or positioning poles are added or removed, or
- when components of the bed system (e.g., new bed rails or mattresses) are changed or replaced.
A list of bed rail safety guidelines can be found on Page 11 of the document “Clinical Guidance For the Assessment and Implementation of Bed Rails In Hospitals, Long Term Care Facilities, and Home Care Settings”, written by the Hospital Bed Safety Workgroup, in partnership with the FDA.
The FDA’s site is so informative and helpful. After looking over its safety guidelines, we were able to fix the bed so the mattress was firmly in place. Now, when Mother sleeps quietly in her bed, I can rest easy.
We hope this was helpful. If you have any questions or if you know of a senior that could benefit from our vast array of home care services in Houston, please call us at 832 379-4700 or email us. We accept most long term care insurance as payment and have a full time staff supervising more than 100 quality-trained home care personnel covering the Houston, Texas area.