Most nursing homes, hospitals and even home medical care providers use bed rails as a way to assist patients that have limited mobility or are in danger of falling out of bed. However, there is gaining concern that these bed rails are often misused as restraint devices and even under the best circumstance, can endanger the patients they are meant to protect.
Bed rail entrapment, where the patient becomes lodged between the bed rail and mattress or just in the bed rail itself, is a very real threat and can severely injure and even cause death. The Chicago nursing home abuse attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are committed to investigating and prosecuting Illinois bed rail injury cases to the fullest extent possible. Contact our office for a free case review of your Illinois bed rail entrapment lawsuit today.
FDA Alerts Public About Risks Associated With Bed Rails
The dangers that bed rails can pose is not new information. Back in 1995, the FDA issued a safety alert regarding these medical devices and the risks that using them can have on patients. The main concern was entrapment and the main victims were elderly persons. The FDA reported four main ways that patients became entrapped from bed rails:
- Between the bars of a single bed rail
- In between the space of split bed rails
- Between the mattress and bed rail
- Between the headboard, footboard, mattress and bed rail
The safety alert from the FDA back in 1995 went on to encourage safety when using these devices, advising regular inspection of the bed rails and mattress configurations, the use of protective barriers to reduce the chance of entrapment and warning that bed rails should not be used as restraint devices. However, many nursing homes and medical care providers still use these devices incorrectly, putting patients at risk for entrapment.
The FDA released a guide for bed safety again in 2010. They indicated that between 1985-2009, 803 bed rail entrapment incidences had been reported to them, with 480 of these incidences resulting in death. The guide encourages the use of other methods than bed rails to protect patients when sleeping, such as monitoring, lowering beds and anticipating their needs.
Portable Bed Rails: An Added Danger To Hospital Beds
One of the more dangerous types of bed rails are the portable bed rails that are used in homes and also in medical facilities. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a memorandum in October 2012 on the dangers of these devices based on incidents that had been reported by them. The report focused not on bed rails used for children on adult beds, but portable bed rails that were used for adults. The report found that between January 2003 and September 2012, 160 incidences had been reported about these devices, including 155 fatalities. In addition, some other statistics included:
- 93% of the fatalities were due to entrapment.
- 83% were 60 years of age or older
- 61% of the fatalities happened at home
- At least 28% happened at nursing homes, assisted living or hospice facilities
- 36,900 portable bed rail injuries were treated at emergency rooms between January 2003 and December 2011.
These types of injuries and fatalities may be blamed on either the manufacturers of these rails, the medical facilities that use them or both. Victims and their families should be aware that there may be cause for a lawsuit and possible financial compensation for injuries or loss of a loved one from entrapment in a portable bed rail.
Bed Rail Entrapment Injuries
There are many ways that a person can be injured through the use of bed rails, including entrapment injuries. According to the FDA, the main risks include:
- Strangulation or suffocation when head or neck becomes entrapped
- Bodily injury to trapped limbs, including bruising, lacerations and fractures.
- Agitation and increased risk of self-harm due to confusion and frustration by the patient that is trapped.
Bed Rail Claims and Awards
$1,000,000 Settlement; Bed Rail Case; Chicago, Illinois
Here, a woman fell off her bed and got trapped between it and the bed rails that were supposed to keep her in place. She fractured her femur. However, she was so old (92) that doctors elected not to perform surgery. Unfortunately, she was not adequately monitored during her rehabilitation for that bed rail accident. As a consequence, she got bed sores on her feet. These became infected and maggots started to creep into the area. A case was brought on her behalf because of these developments. Her lawyers argued that they could not have happened but for the defendants’ negligence. Further, they argued that the defendants should pay for the damage that they did including causing her pain, giving her disabilities, and incurring her expenses. The defendants chose to settle rather than try the case in court. The plaintiff received $1,000,000.
$570,000 Settlement; Bed Rail Case; Chicago, Illinois
The victim of this bed rail accident was nearly one hundred years old. She was admitted to an Illinois nursing facility after experiencing a bout of seizures. She was deemed a fall risk and staff erected bed rails and took other precautions. However, one day, they found her with her head pitted between the mattress and the bed rails. Staff took immediate action to try and revive her. Tragically, they were unsuccessful. She died soon after this accident. Doctors deemed the cause of death as compressional asphyxia. Her two grandsons survived her. They were left to deal with the tragic loss of their grandmother as well as the medical bills she accumulated-almost $10,000 worth! They did not think this was fair. They sued the facility and the maker of the bed. They claimed both were responsible for her death, their pain, and all of their bills. The defendants did not push this matter at trial. They settled. The facility gave the plaintiffs $550,000. The distributor of the mattress gave the plaintiffs $20,000.
$223,678 Settlement; Bed Rail Case; Chicago, Illinois
This case was a particular kind of bed rail dispute. The victim was in her late seventies at the time of the incident. What happened was that she fell down as she attempted to exist the bed. She broke her humerus bone and suffered brachial plexopathy. The combined medical bills for all of this were over $70,000. Plus, she still felt the effects in the for of pain, limited mobility, and other handicaps. She sued the facility. She argued that they should have erected the bed rails to prohibit her movement and prevent falls. In essence, she made the case that it should have protected her from herself. That might sound counterintuitive, but it often works with old, sick, or otherwise vulnerable victims. In fact, she was able to recover more than $200,000 in settlement. That far exceeded her medical bills and reflected the fact she experienced harms that the facility could have prevented.
Estate Files Suit after Man Falls Out of Bed and Dies in Care Facility
This case kicked off after a relatively minor incident. The nursing home resident fell out of his bed. However, the effects of the fall were so bad that it kickstarted a decline in his health which subsequently ended in death. Eventually, lawyers for his estate brought a legal action against the facility. They alleged that it should have written and put in place a program to prevent him from falling and injuring himself while in bed. Specifically, they faulted the facility for not erecting bed rails. Had they taken this reasonable step, the lawyers argued that he would not have died. The defendant filed a reply with summary objections. This case was subsequently removed to Cook County and awaits conclusion.Have You Loved One Suffered an Injury or Loss due to Bed Rail Entrapment at an Illinois Nursing Home or Hospital?
If you have been injured or have lost a loved one due to bed rail entrapment in a Chicago nursing home or hospital, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the medical care provider or even the manufacturer of the bed rail. Depending on the circumstance, it may be possible that both parties are liable. At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC, we are experienced with handling both nursing home negligence cases. We can discuss the details of your bed rail injury case and find the best option for compensation. Call us today to set up a free consultation. There is no further obligation and no upfront costs for our services; we only get compensated if you do!