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Bed Rails Causing Injury and Death Among Nation’s Elderly

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What if a mechanism put on the side of your loved one’s sick bed, presumably to protect them, ends up seriously injuring or killing them? Unfortunately, this is what happened to 63-year old Alzheimer patient, Billie Trew due to nursing home neglect. She was strangled to death by the restraints on her bed while sleeping. Her family brought the nursing home and the bed manufacturer to court, and discovered that at least 20 other patients had died and over 60 had been injured by similar bed rails!

In a recent American Association for Justice’s recent report entitled “Standing Up for Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans,” there is a discussion of the incredible safety hazard that bed rails pose to nursing home residents. Though you would think that bed rails are a safety device meant to keep sick, drugged, confused seniors from falling out of beds in hospitals and nursing homes, in reality hundreds of seniors have been killed and many more injured in connection with these bed rails.

Poor Design, Whose Fault Is It?

Bed rail deaths are the results of poor designs — nursing home residents are sometimes trapped between or under the rails themselves, or in gaps between the mattress’ edges and the bed frame. Bed rail deaths are also the result of the improper or overuse of rails. Many times seniors are injured or killed by bed rails where bed rail use was unnecessary. For example, bed rails exacerbate injuries when a resident falls because they fall from a greater height when trying to climb over the rail.

Federal agencies and medical experts have encouraged nursing homes to reduce their reliance on bed rails, but these encouragements have done little to change the behaviors of nursing homes. The federal minimum standards for bed rails are voluntary, and the nursing homes have not done a good job of self-policing. The few government regulations that do exist to address the problem of bed rails are hardly a deterrent because the penalties are barely a slap on the wrist for nursing homes.

The civil justice system is working to help stem the problem of bed rail deaths and injuries though. Costly lawsuits get the attention of nursing homes. Steven Miles, geriatrician and bioethicist, states it plainly, “Government sanctions cost a couple of thousand bucks. A lawsuit can cost $500,000 to $1 million; it gets much more attention.”

The result is that lawsuits over poorly designed bed rails and/or the inappropriate use of bed rails have greatly reduced their use in nursing homes. In the case of Billie Trew, the nursing home agreed to reduce the use of bed rails, and the manufacturer agreed to warn customers about the dangers of entrapment. The result was a 90percent reduction in the use of restraints.

Receiving Justice for Bed Rail Injury or Death

If you believe that you or a loved one has been the victim of a defective or inappropriately used bed rail; you want to know your rights; you want to know what your case is worth; you want compensation; you want justice; and you would you like to ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to other senior citizens, then call a Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys elder abuse attorney, at 800-259-6373. The call is free. The advice may be priceless.

Call the Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys nursing home abuse attorneys for a free professional evaluation of your rights by attorneys who have been representing victims of medical malpractice and senior abuse since 1978. You will experience award winning representation and outstanding personal service by a compassionate and understanding law firm in a comfortable environment.

The Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys is not representing any of the parties mentioned in this article at the time the article was posted. Our information source is cited in the article. If you were involved in this incident or a similar incident and have questions as to your rights and options, call us or another reputable law firm. Do not act solely upon the information provided herein. Get a consultation. The best law firms will provide a free consultation. We provide a free, confidential consultation to not at fault persons named in this article. The free consultation offer extends to family members as well.

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