Most nursing home and hospital beds come equipped with adjustable bed rails, which can be put up to prevent patients from falling out of bed. However, poor design or misuse of bed rails can lead to injury or death, according to this article in the New York Times. According to the article, about 150 deaths occurred between 2003 and 2012 from faulty bed rails.
In Ohio, when a bed rail (also called a siderail or side rail) causes injury or death, the matter should be investigated by an experienced injury lawyer. The investigation should include a careful interview of the patient’s family, thorough review of medical records, photo- or video-documentation of the bed rail in question, and, once suit is filed, a deposition of all caregivers who witnessed the injury or its aftermath.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have known for more than a decade about deaths from bed rails, so the companies that make them, and hospitals and nursing homes that use them, are aware as well. When a company manufactures a product, like a bed rail, that is too dangerous in design, they can be held accountable for injuries caused by the bed rail in a product liability lawsuit. If the bed rails in question were used without good reason as part of a comprehensive fall protection program, the nursing home or hospital may be held liable in a negligence or medical malpractice case. The nursing home or hospital may also be held liable for failing to replace dangerous equipment.
Typically, injuries occur from side rails when an elderly or medicated patient slips between the rail and mattress, and suffocates. If there is a delay in discovering the patient, the patient may suffer brain injury or die. A simple design modification prevents this from occurring, so these injuries are avoidable.