Deaths caused by bedrails

Kara Parker, Steven H Miles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVES: To determine how bedrails cause death in order to suggest clinical and ergonomic changes to prevent such deaths and to promote research to improve the use and design of bed systems. DESIGN: A review of reports of adult deaths and injuries from bedrails contained in the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission Death Certificate File and its Reported Incidents File and its National Injury Information Clearinghouse Accident Investigations from 1993 to 1996. Deaths involving the use of vest restraints were excluded. We reconstructed, reenacted, and have graphically depicted major patterns of deaths. A review of the literature to 1966 was also done. RESULTS: The 74 deaths described are categorized into three types: (1) 70% were entrapments between the mattress and a rail so that the face was pressed against the mattress, (2) 18% were entrapment and compression of the neck within the rails, and (3) 12% were deaths caused by being trapped by the rails after sliding partially off the bed and having the neck flexed or the chest compressed. CONCLUSIONS: Deaths from bedrails are underrecognized and preventable clinical events that can occur in any medical setting. Preventing these events will require a unified redesign of the relationships between rails, mattresses, and beds, which are now often assembled and used as separate products. Clinicians can prevent many of these deaths by using bedrails ranch more judiciously, confirming the proper relationships between beds, rails and mattresses, and using alarms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)797-802
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1997


Dive into the research topics of 'Deaths caused by bedrails'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this