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Consumer groups question bed rail safety
Wednesday November 28, 2012


Portable bed rails marketed to "make any bed safer" actually increase the risk of injury and death, according to an article in the Nov. 15 issue of Biomedical Safety & Standards. Two consumer watchdog groups have requested the Federal Trade Commission to order one manufacturer to stop making false advertising claims regarding the safety of its portable bed rail.

Last year, one of the groups petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban marketing and order a recall of specific bed rail models to assess the design and use of similar bed handle or bed rail devices; investigate the risk of life-threatening injury or death from entrapment, strangulation or positional asphyxia; and ban other devices as appropriate.

The request cites more than 525 deaths associated with bed rail use that have been filed with the FDA, along with more than 155 deaths reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. There are multiple "entrapment zones" with the use of a bed rail, each with a risk of causing death by asphyxiation. This entrapment risk can be a fundamental feature of the design of the rail openings or may arise from how the bed rail attaches to the bed.

Other portable bed rails on the market present similar safety issues, according to the article.

Previous CPSC standards addressing bed rails for children and toddlers have led to sharp reductions in injuries and deaths in young children. However, the standards don’t apply to products intended for adults, according to the article.

There’s no evidence that side rails safely prevent falls, whereas other measures — such as lowering the bed and using anti-slip matting — are effective. "A fall with a bed rail in place is more dangerous than a fall without a rail, because of the change in trajectory of the fall," according to the article.

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Wednesday November 28, 2012
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