The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recently released a review of adult portable bed rail-related deaths and injuries between January 2003 and September 2012. Using data from various sources, including death certificates and medical examiner/coroner reports, the review cited 155 deaths involving bed rails during that period. According to CSPC, the victims’ ages ranged from 13 to 103. Most (83 percent) of the decedents were older than 60, 12 percent were between 30 and 60 years old, 4 percent were younger than 30, and one was of an unknown age. Some 61 percent of the deaths occurred at home and about 26 percent occurred at a nursing home or in an assisted living facility, the report said. It also found that nearly half of those who died in bed-rail accidents had medical problems such as dementia, heart disease and Parkinson’s disease. Most of the 155 deaths allegedly occurred, for the most part, when a person’s head or neck became stuck in the bed rails.
According to news sources, consumer safety advocates, who have long campaigned for federal regulators to study bed-rail deaths and injuries, called the report an important first step. But they said that it failed to address several issues, including jurisdictional matters, that is, which agency has responsibility for some types of bed rails—CPSC or the Food and Drug Administration. The advocates said that the question of oversight remained one of the biggest problems with bed rails, due to unanswered technical questions about which rails are medical devices and which are consumer products.
In August, CPSC Commissioner Robert Adler evidently indicated that safety standards for adult bed rails should be considered now that the agency has completed its work on bed rails for children, and according to news sources, CPSC recently said, “Our office is still reviewing its findings, but we look forward to exploring what internal and external steps can be taken to address hazards associated with these products.” See The New York Times, November 29, 2012.