Safety matters in hospitals. Attorneys, patient care advocates, and others often harp on the current gaps in overall patient care quality. That is because there are still so many lives to be saved and injuries to be prevented by adherance to high quality safety protocols all of the time. Much of that advocacy is focused on actual malpractice–violations of professional standards of care that cause harm to unsupecting patients.
However, there are actually other dangers in medical facilities that are not exactly related to malpractice. Instead of violations of professional standards of care, even basic acts of negligene might occur in a hosptial that causes harm. For example, hosptials and staff members must be diligent and aware of the dangers posed by certain pieces of basic equipment, like bed rails. Far from being a safety device themselves, advocates have vociferously argued that these rails actually present serious risks of harm for those using them.
This point was discussed helpfully in the latest newsletter published by Biomedical Safety & Standards. The article noted how many consumer watchdog organizations have been making serious calls for bed rail reforms to entities like the Federal Trade Commission. The basic argument is that these bed rails pose serious safety risks, requiring changes in marketing practices, consumer warnings, and perhaps even recalls. According to the report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has noted at least 525 deaths caused by bed rails. That is on top of the 125 documented cases from the Consumer Product Safety Commission. These tallys should not be taken as definitive analyses of all incidents, as many sitautions are often not reported.