If you ignore a problem then it often does not go away. It seems that bed rail suppliers and hospital and nursing home facilities are doing business as if bed rails are no threat to patient safety despite FDA warnings and confirmed fatalities involving people becoming entrapped in bed rails. There are several reasons why bed rail accidents continue to be a problem and both suppliers and facilities have a role to play in the problem.
Suppliers who are responsible for selling and delivering the beds to hospitals and nursing homes can also be at fault. Sometimes, they are poorly trained by their companies and cannot provide necessary information to the facilities about how to assemble and properly use the bed systems. Some suppliers have little, if any, contact with the facility. The beds are ordered and delivered without any communication at all except about price and delivery terms. Further, the employees who are communicating with the facilities might not know of prior entrapment incidents regarding company bed rails or they might be aware of the information and fail to convey it to the facilities.
Hospital and nursing home facilities can be at fault in a few different ways as well. First, they may lack the knowledge necessary to keep patients safe in beds with side rails. They might not be aware that people can become trapped in bed rails and suffer serious injuries or die from strangulation. While the FDA has made many findings about the dangers of bed rails and suggestions for lessening the risk, none of the FDA guidance has been mandatory and some facilities remain unaware of both the danger and the suggestions.
Other facilities, especially those who have had patients suffer from bed rail entrapment, are well aware of the risks. Some even have policies that prohibit the use of bed rails in their facilities. However, those policies are not always communicated to the people who order, set up and monitor use of the beds. Therefore, beds with bed rails are inadvertently ordered and used. Other times, all of the employees have the necessary information and order the correct beds but the beds are delivered with bed rails and they are needed immediately.
The most important thing that can be done is for both suppliers and facilities to be well educated about the dangers of bed rail entrapments. Then, perhaps, they will take the necessary steps to ensure patient safety and to make sure that unnecessary bed rail injuries do not continue to happen on their watch.
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