The effect of bedrails on falls and injury: a systematic review of clinical studies.

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The effect of bedrails on falls and injury: a systematic review of clinical studies.

Age Ageing. 2008 Jul;37(4):368-78

Authors: Healey F, Oliver D, Milne A, Connelly JB

BACKGROUND: around one-fourth of all falls in healthcare settings are falls from bed. The role of bedrails in falls prevention is controversial, with a prevailing orthodoxy that bedrails are harmful and ineffective. OBJECTIVE: to summarise and critically evaluate evidence on the effect of bedrails on falls and injury DESIGN: systematic literature review using the principles of QuoRoM guidance. Setting and SUBJECTS: adult healthcare settings Review METHODS: using the keyword, bedrail, and synonyms, databases were searched from 1980 to June 2007 for direct injury from bedrails or where falls, injury from falls, or any other effects were related to bedrail use. RESULTS: 472 papers were located; 24 met the criteria. Three bedrail reduction studies identified significant increases in falls or multiple falls, and one found that despite a significant decrease in falls in the discontinue-bedrails group, this group remained significantly more likely to fall than the continue-bedrails group; one case-control study found patients who had their bedrails raised significantly less likely to fall; one retrospective survey identified a significantly lower rate of injury and head injury in falls with bedrails up. Twelve papers described direct injury from bedrails. DISCUSSION: it is difficult to perform conventional clinical trials of an intervention already embedded in practice, and all included studies had methodological limitations. However, this review concludes that serious direct injury from bedrails is usually related to use of outmoded designs and incorrect assembly rather than being inherent, and bedrails do not appear to increase the risk of falls or injury from falls.

PMID: 18495686 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

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