Bedrails – a risk-laden remedy
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In May this, Bupa Care Homes (CFC Homes) Ltd were brought before Carlisle Magistrates Court by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in consequence of an incident involving bedrails in which a resident died at one the company’s care homes. Bupa was fined £400,000 with costs of £15,206.
The Court found that the company had failed to ensure that the resident’s bedrail assessment was suitable and sufficient, or that staff were adequately trained in bedrail risk assessments. They Court said reviews of bedrail assessment should have identified further measures to prevent the risk of falls, but staff who carried out the initial assessment and reviews were not adequately trained. It also found that measures identified to protect the patient were not implemented correctly and increased checks on the resident should have been carried out as instructed by a medical professional.
Bedrails are widely used to reduce the risk of falls. Although not suitable for every patient, they can be effective when used properly. This case highlights the risks involved with bedrails and serves as a reminder that the issue should not be overlooked. When used, care homes should identify the following risks during inspections:
• Trapping between poorly fitting mattresses and bedrails;
• Rolling over the top of the bedrails;
• Trapping between the bedrail and mattress, headboard or other parts because of poor bedrail positioning.
Care homes should also ensure:
• Bedrails are only provided when they are the right solution to prevent falls;
• Risk assessments are carried out by a competent person taking into account the patient, the bed, mattresses, bedrails and all associated equipment;
• The rails are suitable for the bed and mattress;
• The mattress fits snugly between the rails;
• The rails are correctly fitted, secure, regularly inspected and maintained;
• Gaps that could cause entrapment of neck, head and chest are eliminated; • Staff are trained in the risks and safe use of bedrails.