Use of patient bed rails

This is an information leaflet for patients and visitors regarding the use of hospital bedrails.

What are bed rails?

Bed rails are usually made out of metal and are generally an integral part of the bed frame.

Why use bed rails?

Bed rails are used to prevent patients falling from the bed. Bed rails can be used to reduce the risk of you accidentally slipping, sliding, falling or rolling from your bed.

You may be at risk of falling from the bed if:

  • You have impaired mobility
  • Are less aware of your surroundings due to
    • conditions such as dementia / sensory
    • impairment or confusion
  • Taking medications which increase the risk of falling / alter perception
  • Have problems with your balance

Your ability to remain safely in the centre of the bed can be affected for various reasons such as strokes, paralysis, muscle spasm or other conditions.

Are bed rails used on all patients in hospital?

No, bed rails are not be suitable for all patients and should only be used if the benefits out weigh the risks. The nursing staff will complete an assessment regarding the use of bed rails for you, and this will be completed on a regular basis.

Bed rails are not used to prevent you getting out of bed, even if you are at high risk of falling.

Bed rails will not prevent you leaving your bed and possibly falling elsewhere.

When are bed rails used?

  • When transferring around the hospital on the bed or trolley
  • If your balance or safety is affected by illness, medication or a condition
  • If you have difficulty moving
  • At your request as a safety and security measure

Why you may be safer with bed rails

Most patients who fall from bed receive bumps or bruises but some patients can be seriously injured. If you are well enough the decision to use bed rails will be up to you. In other cases staff and patients or carers will discuss the matter and make a joint decision.

Why you may be safer without bed rails

You may try to climb over bed rails resulting in injury. There is a small risk of you becoming entrapped within the rail.

This is why a thorough assessment is completed to ensure the use of bed rails is safe for you.

Photo of bed rails on a hospital bed

Advice for carers, relatives and friends

It is important that you discuss any concerns you have with staff on the ward. If you feel your relatives condition has changed and the use of bed rails either needs to be considered or withdrawn then please address this with ward staff.

  • We would ask that before you leave the bedside you:
  • Replace the call bell if moved during visiting hours
  • Ask nursing staff to replace bedrails if lowered during visiting
  • Report if the patient you are visiting has been disorientated
  • Ensure bed tables are in reach of the patient if they have been moved during visiting. This ensures the patient does not have to overstretch to reach personal items
  • Ensure bed is at lowest level and report to staff if it looks too high.

Please ask a member of staff if bed rails need moving.