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  7. Safety Concerns about Adult Portable Bed Rails
  1. Adult Portable Bed Rail Safety

Safety Concerns about Adult Portable Bed Rails

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) have received death and injury reports related to adult portable bed rail products. Most of these reports were for entrapment, asphyxiation (suffocation), and falls. It is important to consider whether or not a bed rail product is appropriate when creating a safe sleeping environment that accounts for medical needs, comfort, and desire for freedom of movement.

Risk of Entrapment

Entrapment can occur when a person is trapped by the bed rail in a position they cannot move from. This trapping can occur when the rail is not held securely against the mattress and the individual falls between the rail and the mattress, between the supports, within or under the rail. The image below shows a few examples of entrapments in Zones 1 - 4 for bed rails. However, these drawings do not illustrate every possible position in which a person may become entrapped.

FIG. X1 1 Zone 1 - Entrapment within the product. FIG1.2 Zone 2 - Entrapment under the product, between the supports or next to a single product. FIG. X1.3 Zone 3 - Entrapment between the product and mattress. FIG. X1.4 Zone 4 - Entrapment under the product at either of its ends
Reprinted, with permission, from F3186-17 Standard Specification for Adult Portable Bed Rails and Related Products, copyright ASTM International. A copy of the complete standard may be obtained from ASTM International, www.astm.org.

People who want to be safe in bed should understand the risks associated with using bed rail products, take steps to ensure that they are installed and used correctly, and be aware that certain individuals should not use bed rails.

Adult portable bed rails should not be used as a restraint. They are intended to be assistive and should be used to facilitate mobility for those who need assistance getting in and out of bed or repositioning in bed.

Adult portable bed rails are not for everyone, nor every situation. Deaths and serious injuries can happen when using these products and devices. Even when adult portable bed rails are properly designed to reduce the risk of entrapment or falls, are compatible with the bed and mattress, and are used appropriately, they can present a hazard to certain individuals, particularly to people with physical limitations or altered mental status, such as dementia or delirium.

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