A tool believed to help make seniors safer by keeping them from falling out of their beds, may actually be more dangerous than perceived. According to several accounts, thousands of frail, confused or elderly people have been injured and hundreds killed after becoming trapped in safety rails installed to keep them from falling out of bed.
The danger happens when the elderly individual falls asleep, and then rolls over in their sleep, becoming entrapped by the bedrail, either stuck in the device itself, or pinned between it and the mattress. Unable to break free, the individuals die from suffocation.
According to reports, there are currently no mandatory federal safety standards for bedrails designed for and marketed towards the eldery. This is in stark contrast to children’s cribs and bedrails, which by law must meet certain design criteria and pass safety tests.
This is not to say that the federal government is unaware of the risks. In fact, the FDA issued a safety alert for bedrails associated with hospital beds back in 1995. After people continued to die, the FDA formed a working group made up of manufacturers, hospitals, health care providers and government officials. The group issued non-legally binding guidance for hospital bedrails in 2006, but decided against requiring warning labels after negative responses in the industry.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, between 2003 and 2012 nearly 37,000 people nationwide visited hospital emergency rooms and 155 people died because of injuries caused by adult portable bedrails. A majority of the accidents occurred in private homes, nursing homes or assisted living facilities. More than two thirds of the injured individuals were over 60 years old.
Furthermore, since 1985 the FDA has received at least 901 reports of patients who were trapped, entangled or strangled in hospital bedrails. Among those, 531 proved fatal. A majority of the victims were frail or mentally impaired.
These statistics are alarming and disturbing. The risks associated with using these bedrails are real, and should not be taken lightly. Manufacturers are required to make products that are safe, and to adequately warn consumers regarding the risks associated with using their products. It is shocking that following so many deaths that the FDA would not require the use of a warning label. Nonetheless, if your loved one has died as a result of one of these bedrails, you may have a claim against the manufacturer for a failure to warn or other products liability claims related to your loss.
If you or a loved one has suffered injury or death as a result of a defective consumer product, you should contact an experienced products liability attorney as soon as possible in order to discuss your claim. You may be entitled to damages for your medical bills, pain & suffering, lost wages, or other claims. The hardworking personal injury attorneys at Lebowitz & Mzhen have many years of experience in zealously representing individuals in the Washington, DC area who have suffered injuries due to defective or dangerous products. Call us today in order to schedule a free and confidential consultation. You can contact us by calling (800) 654-1949 or through our website.
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