Enhancing Bed Safety: Prioritising Patient Safety and Mitigating Entrapment and Fall Risks

Michaela Shiret
4 mins

Checking the safety of bed rails In the healthcare setting, ensuring patient safety is of paramount importance. Medical devices, such as beds, trolleys, bed rails, bed grab handles, and lateral turning devices, play a crucial role in providing comfort, support, and mobility to patients. However, these devices can also pose potential hazards if not used properly or if they malfunction. In this article we will discuss the importance of patient safety with medical beds.

A recent National Patient Safety Alert (NPSA) from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) highlights the risks of entrapment and falls associated with medical devices. These incidents can lead to severe injuries, including fractures, head injuries, and even death.

Addressing these concerns and implementing effective strategies to mitigate entrapment and fall risks are critical for safeguarding patients' well-being. By prioritising bed safety, you can create a safer and more secure environment for your patients.

"Investigations into incidents involving falls often found the likely cause to be worn or broken parts, which should have been replaced during regular maintenance and servicing, but which were either not carried out or were carried out improperly."
- NPSA Document (gov.uk) [PDF]


Understanding the Entrapment and Fall Risks

Entrapment and falls are among the most common adverse events associated with medical devices, especially with nursing beds. Several factors can contribute to these incidents:

  • Incorrect or Incompatible Side Rails: Using side rails that are not compatible with the specific bed model can increase the risk of entrapment, as patients may become trapped between the rail and the mattress.
  • Incompatible Accessories: Before use, all accessories, including cotside bumpers and mattresses, should undergo a thorough assessment to ensure compatibility with the medical bed.
  • Malfunctioning or Improperly Adjusted Bed Controls: Faulty bed controls can lead to sudden movement or unexpected changes in bed height, increasing the risk of falls. Patients may struggle to control the bed's movement, increasing the likelihood of falls.
  • Lack of Caregiver Training: Healthcare professionals and caregivers must be adequately trained on the safe use of medical devices, including bed rails, to minimize the risk of accidents. Proper training ensures that caregivers understand the proper use of side rails, including when and how to raise or lower them.


Prioritising Standards and Regulations

To address these concerns and enhance patient safety, two international standards have been developed to reduce entrapment risks associated with medical beds:

  • BS EN 50637:2017: This standard specifies safety requirements for medical beds, including the design and construction of bed rails. It mandates features such as adjustable rail height, smooth rail movement, and safety mechanisms to prevent entrapment.
  • ISO 15612:2017: This standard provides guidance on the selection and use of medical beds for patients with atypical anatomy, such as those with limited mobility or requiring specialized positioning. It emphasizes the importance of selecting beds that are compatible with patients' individual needs and ensuring proper installation and use of side rails.

Download the National Patient Safety Alert document published by the MHRA here [PDF]  for a detailed read, ensuring compliance for your care home or healthcare establishment.


CLH: Ensuring Bed Safety and Compliance

CLH is committed to partnering with healthcare providers to prioritise patient safety by providing comprehensive bed servicing and side rail compatibility services. Our experienced technicians can:

Conduct Thorough Inspections: We conduct thorough inspections of medical beds to identify any potential hazards, such as loose screws, damaged components, or malfunctioning controls. This proactive approach helps prevent potential accidents and ensures optimal bed function.

Perform Repairs and Replacements: We perform necessary repairs or replacements to maintain optimal bed function and eliminate any safety hazards. Whether it's replacing worn or damaged parts or adjusting bed settings, we ensure that your beds are in the best possible condition.

Provide Bed Certification: We can provide certification verifying the safety and compliance of your medical beds with relevant regulations, such as BS EN 50637:2017 and ISO 15612:2017. This documentation demonstrates your commitment to patient safety and regulatory compliance.

Identify and Install Compatible Side Rails: We can identify the correct side rails for each specific bed model and ensure they are properly fitted and installed. This helps prevent entrapment and ensures the safe use of side rails for patients of all sizes and needs.


What CLH Cannot Provide:

Caregiver Training Programs: Unfortunately, we don't offer tailored caregiver training programs. Providing your caregivers with thorough training and skills to operate and manage medical beds effectively is paramount, and this can be addressed through the implementation of in-house training programs. This internal training not only fosters a culture of safety but also significantly reduces the risk of accidents.

Mattress & Accessory Suitability Advice: When it comes to mattresses and other accessories, suitability often depends on individual risk assessments. As there's nothing prohibiting you from transferring these accessories to a different device, we are unable to provide certification or advice in this regard. Individualised assessments are key to ensuring the right match for patient comfort and safety.


Partnering for Synergistic Safety

By partnering with CLH, healthcare providers can leverage our expertise and resources to maintain a safe and compliant medical environment for their patients. Our comprehensive bed servicing and side rail compatibility services help you comply with the MHRA regulations and prioritise patient safety in every aspect.


Contact CLH Today:

Embrace a proactive approach to bed safety and partner with CLH to ensure the well-being of your patients. We are here to assist you! Use the button below to provide us with some details to so we can get in touch to discuss your needs.

Submit Your Bed Inspection Requirements Here!

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