Upon hearing the news that a loved one has been injured during a stay at a medical facility, most would assume that the incident was caused by complications during surgery or even an oversight on behalf of the medical staff. Few would think that an injury, or even death, could be caused by something as seemingly harmless as the rails on a bed. However, some reports indicate that injuries and deaths caused by bedrails are a real problem. In fact, instances of death due to faulty bedrails have been reported in North Carolina. In many cases, family members might consider filing a wrongful death case.
Some reports note that between 2003 and 2012, approximately 155 people died as a result of safety issues concerning bedrails. The vast majority of these were people over the age of 60. Fatalities most often occurred when a patient’s head became trapped between the rail and the bed. The details of several incidents were reviewed, and most of them involved elderly patients who became stuck and then suffocated.
While bedrails are intended to prevent people from falling out of bed, some are advocating for a ban of them; others want increased regulations. In 2006, a group formed by the Food and Drug Administration made several recommendations to ensure the safe use of such devices. Unfortunately, these recommendations are not legally binding.
Some speculate that deaths caused by problems with bedrails are often under-reported or hidden by medical care facilities in order to avoid lawsuits. However, anyone in North Carolina who has lost a loved one in such a tragic manner has the option of seeking justice by filing a wrongful death case. If they can prove their case, they could be awarded financial restitution to cover funeral expenses and other financial damages recognized under our laws.
Source: Idaho Statesman, Bedrails pose deadly hazard to frail, elderly, impaired, Lindsay Wise, Oct. 8, 2013