Assist Rails – Not for the Elderly Anymore!

Angie SzumlinskiUncategorized

On May 29, 2013 the Consumer Product Safety Commission filed a petition requesting a ban or standard on adult portable bed rails.  The Commission received 2 requests asking that proceedings be initiated to determine that adult portable bed rails pose an unreasonable risk of injury and to initiate rulemaking. 

The petitioners assert that adult portable bed rails currently on the market are responsible for many injuries and deaths among users, particularly the frail and elderly.  The petitioners state that many of these deaths result from asphyxiation caused by entrapment within openings of the rail or between the rail and the mattress or bed frame.  It is also claimed that individuals who attempt to climb over the bed rails may be at greater risk of injury or death than they would be if no rail were used.  The petitioner’s cite a CPSC memorandum dated October 11, 2012, “Adult Portable Bed-Rail-Related Deaths, Injuries and Potential Injuries: January 2003 to September 2012”.  This data shows that there were 155 fatalities (129 involved victims 60 years old and older) and most related to rail entrapment.  Additionally, 36,900 adult portable bed rail-related injuries that were treated in U.S. hospital emergency departments from January 2003 to December 2011.  To access the docket in its entirety, go to  and insert docket number CPSC-2013-0022 into the search box. 

The Commission invites written comments identified by Docket No. CPSC-2013-0022.  Comments may be submitted:

  • Electronically (preferred method) to Follow the instructions for submitting comments.  The Commission does not accept comments submitted by electronic email except through this website.  
  • Written submissions should be submitted to Mail/Hand delivery/Courier preferably in five copies to Office of the Secretary, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Room 820, 4330 East West Highway, Bethesda, MD 20814. 

HealthCap has and will continue to discourage the use of any bed rails, portable or permanent, unless the risk/benefit supports their use.  We encourage our members to attempt any and all safety interventions prior to utilizing devices on resident beds.  These petitions further bolster HealthCap’s belief that residents are at risk when utilizing assist rails.  If you should have any questions or need assistance in actively reducing the use of assist rails in your home please contact your HealthCap Risk Manager.  Thank you!