Unsafe, Even in Bed?

A recent New York Times article talks about a nursing home danger most of us don’t even consider–beds with rails. Although rails are commonly used to protect frail patients from accidentally rolling out of bed, their design actually poses a danger of entrapment, when a patient get trapped between the rail and the mattress.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), although entrapment is uncommon, when it happens the results can be disastrous. They have documented 480 deaths, 138 injures, and 185 “close calls” …but experts believe that many more cases are never reported.

The NYT article was written by Paula Span, who wrote a terrific book called “When the Time Comes: Families with Aging Parents Share Their Struggles and Solutions.” In the article, Ms. Span quotes Dr. Steven Miles, a geriatrician bioethicist at the University of Minnesota:

The ultimate solution would be to establish manufacturing standards so that no bed has a dangerous gap between mattress and rail, just as one can no longer buy a crib that could entrap an infant. “We value babies more than elderly nursing home patients,” Dr. Miles observed.

Meanwhile, here’s his straightforward counsel about how to distinguish a quality rehab facility or nursing home from an unsafe one: “Count off 10 beds. See how many have rails in use. If more than one or two in 10 beds have rails up, walk out of the facility.”

Click the link to read the full article: New York Times bed rail article.

And to read the FDA’s guidance about hospital bed safety, which includes a diagram of hospital bed entrapment zones, click here: Hospital Bed Safety.

To read more about legal issues surrounding nursing homes, visit our site here: HensonFuerst Law.

Talk with us for Free.

The Henson Fuerst attorneys are always ready to talk to you about your case at absolutely no cost to you. We’ll answer questions that you may have and help you get back on your feet.

Home Page Evaluation Form

Free Case Evaluation

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Our Locations



3110 Edwards Mill Rd
Suite 210
Raleigh, NC 27612
(919) 781-1107
Fax: (919) 781-8048
View in Google Maps


2317 Sunset Ave.
Rocky Mount, NC 27804
(252) 443-2111
Fax: (252) 443-9429
View in Google Maps


(828) 295-7469

*By Appointment Only

Scroll to Top
Skip to content