Girardi | Keese

CPSC announces first recall of dangerous bed rails

Last month, the acting chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that the agency would be launching a new program specifically designed to protect seniors from dangerous and otherwise defective products.

One of the products that will undoubtedly be in the crosshairs of this new program will be bed rails, which help elderly and disabled people get in and out of bed. According to CPSC statistics, 550 deaths attributable to bed rails have occurred since 1995, while 174 deaths attributable to portable bed rails have occurred from January 2003 to December 2012.

The primary risk associated with bed rails is strangulation or crushing, as a person can become fatally trapped between the handles and the mattress. Indeed, a particular type of portable bed rail was recalled by the CPSC last month following three such deaths.

The recall in question covers roughly 113,000 portable bed rails manufactured by Bed Handles Inc. between January 1994 and December 2007.

CPSC officials indicate that the primary problem with the recalled portable bed rails is that they are lacking safety retention straps designed to prevent the aforementioned dangerous gap between the mattress and bedrail from forming.

The affected models -- the Original Bedside Assistant, Travel Handles and the Adjustable Bedside Assistant -- retailed for roughly $100 and were sold in pharmacies, medical supply stores and home health care catalogs. They are typically found in care facilities for the elderly or the disabled.

Indeed, the three fatalities attributable to the recalled bed rails included a 76-year-old woman who died in an assisted-living facility, an 81-year-old woman who died in a managed-care facility and a 41-year-old woman who died in an adult family home.

The CPSC indicates that those people in possession of the recalled bed rails should discontinue use, and contact Bed Handles Inc. to secure safety retention straps and a revised instruction manual.

It's important to remember that you can seek justice if a dangerous or defective household product has caused your family immeasurable harm.

Source: The New York Times, "Safety commission recalls bed handles after deaths," Ron Nixon, May 20, 2014; The Star Tribune, "Years after Edina death, bed handles used by elderly are recalled," Paul Walsh, May 22, 2014

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