The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (Consumer Voice) has again called for mandatory standards for adult portable bed rails in long-term care settings. Last week the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced the recall of about 113,000 sets of the bed handles, which have been linked to three deaths.
Bed Handles Inc., a Minnesota firm, recalled the portable bed handles, which are intended to provide adults with assistance getting in and out of bed by giving them a bar to grip. But if the handles are installed without safety retention straps, the handles can shift out of place, creating a dangerous gap between the handle and the mattress, according to the CPSC. Older adults and people with disabilities can be strangled or asphyxiated if they become trapped between the mattress and the bed rail, Consumer Voice explains.
Last year, the advocacy group Public Citizen and a safety activist mounted petition drives seeking a seeking a total ban on adult bed rails, McKnight’s reports. More than 60 organizations signed the activist’s petition. Data from the CPSC indicates 155 bed rail-related fatalities from 2003 to 2012 in private homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospices. McKnight’s says an additional 19 fatalities have been reported since the petitions were filed. Data indicate that more than 110,000 injuries linked to bed rails occurred during the same period.
In its recently launched Senior Safety Initiative, the CPSC focuses on bed rails, but the agency is drafting voluntary standards, not mandatory rules, according to McKnight’s. But Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy for Consumer Voice, says “Voluntary standards don’t work,” and Grant warns that it could take months, or even years, to develop standards and assess their effectiveness. Consumer Voice urges the CPSC to put mandatory standards in place quickly to prevent further injuries and deaths.