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The policy aims to support all users, carers and staff with responsibility for the provision, use, maintenance and fitting of bed rails in the clinical areas within Ashford and St. Peter's NHS Foundation Trust (ASPH).

It is a high priority to ensure the safe use of bedrails within the framework of risk management and clinical governance to prevent patients from acquiring health associated harm while cared for on a bed or trolley.

There are many reasons to use the bedrails which include poor mobility, confusion, obesity, visual impairment or the effects of their treatment or medication.

Research has highlighted that bed rails are used extensively in care environments to prevent patients falling out of bed or trolley and sustaining serious injuries.

There have been serious incidents reported to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA 2013) and data shows that bed rails sometimes don't prevent falls and can introduce other risks.

Poorly fitted bed rails have caused deaths where a person's neck, chest or limbs became trapped in gaps between the bed rails or between the bed rail and the bed, headboard, or mattress.

Other risks that result in serious injuries such as fractures and head injuries are:

  • rolling over the top of the rail
  • climbing over the rail
  • climbing over the footboard
  • sliding down to the gap at the bottom of the bed
  • violently shaking and dislodging rails

Most of these injuries and deaths could have been prevented if adequate risk assessments and appropriate risk management had been carried out.

Bed rails are 'medical devices', and MHRA enforces the Medical Devices Regulations and the General Product Safety Regulations to ensure medical devices are acceptably safe.

It is therefore important to ensure that bedrails are used appropriately to reduce the risk of patients accidentally slipping, sliding, falling out or rolling out of bed.

Bedrails should not be used as a form of restraint or as a moving and handling aid.

Although not suitable for everyone, they can be very effective when used with the right bed, in the right way, for the right person.

A comprehensive assessment is essential and must be carried out prior to the bedrail being used to reduce the risk of injury to patients and staff.


Policy Details

Download: PDF version
Compiled by: Cecilia Chapman, Falls Lead Nurse
Ratified by: Quality Governance Committee
Date Ratified: May 2018
Date Issued: May 2018
Review Date: May 2021
Target Audience: All healthcare staff
Contact name: Cecilia Chapman, Falls Lead Nurse


See also:

  • Risk Management of Falls
  • Reporting and Management of Incidents
  • Cleaning and Disinfection Policy & Procedures
  • Patient Consent Policy