Safety Products Are Not Always Safe

The Dangers of Bed Rails

Sometimes the very products that are meant to keep hospital patients and nursing home residents safe are the ones that cause injuries. The dangers associated with side bed rails are well documented as are the risks associated with Vail beds, tub grabs, raised toilet seats, wheelchair accessories, bed exit alarms and bed sore prevention products.

According to the FDA, Vail beds which were used in hospitals and nursing homes, presented an entrapment and strangulation risk. In 2005, the Vail Company stopped manufacturing the beds and all retrofitting materials. However, some facilities continue to use the beds and put patients at risk despite the FDA's warnings.

Simple devices such as tub grabs and raised toilet seats can also result in harm to patients. Tub grabs are mounted to the sides of tub walls to assist people with safely getting in and out of the bathtub or shower. However, all too often these tub grabs are not properly mounted and they fall off when a person leans on them for assistance. The person then loses his or her balance and falls. Such falls can be very dangerous for elderly or frail patients. Raised toilet seats present a similar risk. If they are not securely and appropriately fastened then they increase a patient's likelihood of injury from a fall.

Wheelchair accessories are also designed to make people safer and more comfortable. Whether it's a tray that snaps on the wheelchair, a chair pad or something as simple as a rain covering, it is important to purchase accessories that are designed for the specific style or size of wheelchair that the patient is using. Otherwise, the accessories can get caught or fall off and cause a serious bed rail accident.

Other devices that are meant to protect elderly or sick people are also potentially dangerous. Take for example, a bed exit alarm. A bed exit alarm alerts hospital or nursing home staff when a person falls out of bed. However, by the time medical staff is alerted to the problem, the fall and any likely damage has already occurred. An over reliance on any product including a bed exit alarm and bed sore prevention products can be a problem. For example, it is not enough to simply reposition a patient and use some of the sheepskin bed sore prevention kits on the market.

A multifaceted approach must be taken so that the medical team is preemptive rather than reactionary and patients are able to stay safe with the very products that are designed to keep them safe.


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