This Safer Practice Notice alerts patients and staff about the relative risks of falls and injury with and without bedrails, and how they can reduce these risks.
It aims to ensure that bedrails are used, when appropriate, to reduce the risk of patients accidentally slipping, sliding, falling or rolling out of bed, and that bedrails are not used inappropriately as a form of restraint.
Between 1 September 2005 and 31 August 2006, the Reporting and Learning System received around 44,000 reports of patients who appeared to have fallen from bed in acute and community hospitals, mental health and learning disability units. Injuries included around 90 patients who fractured their neck or femur, and 11 fatalities.
Of these reports, 61 per cent did not state whether bedrails were used; eight per cent occurred when bedrails were being used; and 31 per cent occurred when they were not. Falls from beds without bedrails were significantly more likely to involve injuries.
The National Reporting and Learning Service advises NHS organisations providing adult inpatient care to:
- produce and implement a policy on bedrails, or ensure their existing policy covers the key areas required within this notice;
- inform staff about the policy;
- audit and evaluate its impact; and
- ensure training for staff who make decisions about bedrails; those who purchase, store, attach or maintain bedrails; or who care for patients using them.