We reached a settlement on behalf of a nursing home resident who was injured due to an unsafe bed in his room.
Our client was in his mid-50’s and was a long term resident of the nursing home due to brain damage he had from a seizure disorder that he had dating back to childhood. His bed in the nursing home had long been equipped with side rails. However, a side rail assessment was done and the nursing staff determined that he did not need side rails, so they were ordered removed. Side rails should be removed when they are not needed because they are a restraint and because they pose an entrapment risk to the resident using the bed.
Side rails consist of a horizontal portion which runs outside and parallel to the mattress and vertical post that the horizontal rails are placed over. When the order was given to remove the side rails, only the horizontal portion of the side rails was removed, and the vertical posts were left in place and uncovered.
The resident awoke during the night and got out of bed. When he did so he lost his balance and fell backward, with the vertical post going into his rectum. He suffered a torn rectum as a result which required surgical repair. Because he had a long-standing colostomy, there were few complications of the injury. An investigation by the Chicago Police Department determined that there was no foul play.
When we took depositions of the staff, the only reason that was offered for leaving the vertical posts in place after the horizontal rails were removed is that it would make it easier to put side rails back if they were ordered at a later date. However, the staff also agreed that the convenience of the staff was not an adequate reason to leave in place any condition which could prove a hazard to the residents.