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Consumer Advocates Again Seek Portable Bed Rail Ban Following Deaths, Recall

Jun 3, 2014

Following a recent recall announcement and three deaths, a consumer watchdog group is, again, seeking a permanent ban on the use of adult portable rails in long-term care settings.

The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care request on a permanent ban on the products followed a recent announcement by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC) over a recall of bed handles associated with three deaths, wrote McKnights. To date, according to the CPSC, three women died after becoming entangled between the bed handles and the bed’s mattress. The three include an elderly woman who died in Edina, Minnesota; a disabled woman, 42, who died in an adult family home in Renton, Washington; and a woman 82, who died in a managed care facility in Vancouver, Washington.

The CPSC recall announcement followed two petitions from Public Citizen and a safety activist that were filed in 2013 in which a complete ban on adult bed rails was sought. The petitions utilized CPSC data that revealed 155-bed rail-related deaths that took place in private homes, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and hospices from 2003 to 2012. Another 19 deaths have taken place since the petitions were filed in 2013 and another 110,000 injuries have been tied to the bed rails in that time frame, McKnights reported.

The CPSC also implemented its “Senior Safety Initiative,” which focuses on the bed rail issue; however, the Commission delayed action on the petitions for one year. Rather, it promised to continue to draft voluntary standards. Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy for the consumer group, was opposed to this, stating that, "Voluntary standards don't work.” She added that it could potentially take months, if not years, to both develop the standards and assess their effectiveness, wrote McKnights.

The recall announced last week by the CPSC involved entrapment, strangulation, and death associated with portable bed handles. Consumers were advised against using Bed Handles Inc. brand products without its safety and warning kit. That announcement involved 113,000 adult portable bed handles, which are attached to an adult’s bed without safety retention straps. The handle may shift out of place, creating a dangerous gap between the handle and the side of the mattress, which poses risks to the adult.

The recalled Bed Handles Inc. products were sold from 1994 through 2007 and are not constructed with safety retention straps to secure the bed handle to the bed frame to ensure the bed handle does not move and of place. This creates the dangerous gap.

The recalled bed handles were sold by home health care stores, drug stores, and medical equipment stores nationwide and in home and health care. Bed Handles indicated that it would provide free safety retention straps that are meant to secure the bed handle to the bed frame, new assembly and installation instructions for the three recalled models, and a warning label to attach to the bed handles. The bed handles should only be used with the safety retention straps securely in place and the bed handle should be attached to the bed frame to prevent a gap.

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