Routine Use of Side Rails May Not Be Necessary for Elderly

Reducing use of side rails does not increase bed-related falls

WEDNESDAY, March 14 (HealthDay News) -- Routine use of side rails in nursing homes does not reduce the risk of bed-related falls, according to a report published in the March issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Elizabeth Capezuti, Ph.D., R.N., of the New York University College of Nursing in New York City, and colleagues conducted a study of over 700 nursing home residents at four sites, of whom 251 had beds fitted with restrictive side rails at baseline. The study intervention was individual resident consultations with an advanced practice nurse and an education and consultation exercise across all four urban homes participating in the study.

Among the four homes, one significantly reduced the use of side rails, while at an individual patient level, 130 (51.4 percent) reduced side rail use, and this group saw a reduced fall rate. The fall rate for those who continued to use side rails was not reduced.

"Although side rails serve many purposes, the study findings do not support routine use of these devices to restrict voluntary movement and prevent bed-related falls," the authors conclude. "Individualized assessment by nursing home staff followed by implementation of interventions modified to residents' needs is the strategy most likely to reduce fall and fall-related injury risk."

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