HIGNETT, S., 2010. Conflicting benefits and hazards hospital style bed rails. Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Human Factors and Ergonomics in Healthcare/ 3rd International Conference on Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics [AHFE], 17-20 July 2010, Miami, USA.
This paper reviews the design and use of hospital-style bed rails. Rails were
originally used as a safety feature for psychiatric patients at risk of falling in the
1800s. There are benefits, for example security in transit, facilitating repositioning,
but also hazards, including deaths and injuries associated with entrapment. The
developments in the technological specification of hospital beds (electric) has
increased with their functionality. However, a survey in England and Wales found
that patients on electric beds / pressure mattresses were three times more likely to
have their rails raised. This may lead to an increase in the exposure to the risks
associated with bed rails and presents a conflict for designers, staff and patients.