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Unintentional Death from Bed Falls

by Noah Lam, Chief Operating Officer of CWI Medical


Approximately 1.8 million emergency room visits and over 400 thousand hospital admissions occur to those over the age of 65 from falling out of bed according to the Center for Disease Control.

As we age, our stability diminishes and getting in and out of bed becomes increasingly difficult. The majority of falls usually occur when getting out of bed. These falls can result in physical injury such as hip fractures and the development of psychological problems like the fear of falling.

There are many factors that can lead to difficulty when transferring in and out of bed, such as medical conditions, mental impairment, and taking medication. In addition, bed height, mattress firmness, type of flooring, footwear, and other equipment can contribute to a fall.

Prevent FallsTo avoid accidental bed falls, there is a need for a plan and review of:

  • Medical issues relating to physical and mental capacity
  • Exercise and rehabilitation plan to strengthen muscles
  • Caregiver roles to make sure there is a watchful eye on the patient
  • The room, bed and equipment to be used during any transfer
  • Products that reduce injury should a fall occur.

The room environment can contribute to safety:

  • Lowering the bed's height can reduce injuries. An adjustable height bed can be lowered for safety and then raised to help get out of bed.
  • Adjusting the distance of equipment such as a wheelchair, walker, cane, commode or bathroom. Keeping items close reduces the need to stretch and lose balance.

Products to review when developing a fall prevention plan:

  • Full length bed rails surprisingly can increase the risk of a fall and injury. Someone might try to climb over the rails or try to go around the rail and over the footboard. In addition, entrapment can occur when the rail and mattress are not fitted properly.
  • Wrist straps are considered physical restraints and increase the risk for bed falls. The use of restraints can agitate the person and create a situation that can cause physical harm.

There are many products that when used properly can provide a safe environment:

  • Bed Push Up Bars or Bed Rail Assists provide the user to position themselves on a bed and allow them to push off. 
  • Telephone Emergency Devices can inform a caregiver that the patient needs help before they attempt to get out of bed. 
  • Reachers are handy when the patient needs to grab something that is just out of reach, and therefore they do to over extend themselves.
  • Keeping a walker nearby can provide support to the patient when getting out of bed.
  • Partial length bed rails can provide additional support. 
  • Anti-Slip Footwear are socks with anti-slip treads infused on the bottom of the sole.
  • Bed Alarms are an excellent product based on modern technology that can help reduce falls.

The following products can reduce injury:

  • Cushioned Floor Mats positioned next to the bed can provide cushioning and distribute the forces on the body.
  • Hip Protectors are similar to ones worn by football players by protecting the fragile hip.

Bed falls are avoidable, and please consult your healthcare professional to develop a plan should you suspect that a loved one is prone to bed falls.

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