Potential dangers of tipping overbed tables in nursing homes

In the United States, there are about 2.5 million hospital and nursing home beds in use. Hospitals, nursing homes and home care providers deal with various kinds of beds every day. For individuals who have loved ones in nursing homes, it’s important that those beds meet safety regulations. The improper use of electric beds has serious, even deadly, consequences.

Tipping overbed tables could harm patients

The Emergency Care Research Institute (ECRI) received multiple reports from a hospital regarding tipping overbed tables. The reports raise concerns about the compatibility of overbed tables with electric low-profile beds.

An example and possible scenario go as so: An electric bed is lowered while the base of an overbed table is planted beneath. While the electric bed lowers, the action may cause the overbed table to tip over onto the patient. The overbed table traps the patient in as a result. In other cases, items on the tipping table could be thrown or spilled. Ultimately, the mishap could cause patient harm or death.

Most of the time, patients are unable to control the bed height. It’s up to health care professionals to safely adjust the height. As a key takeaway, the ECRI advises technicians to pull out overbed tables before adjusting electric beds. Afterward, replace the table with an alternative solution.

Safety concerns for nursing home residents

A bed-related entrapment can be a dangerous incident. Nursing home residents are particularly susceptible to harm, especially if caretakers act negligently. The FDA has published guidance about entrapment with beds. However, the information does not touch on accessory equipment such as overbed tables.

Nursing home residents in long-term care beds may also be at a higher risk. It’s true that electric beds can improve safety for fall-risk residents. On the other hand, electric beds present danger if not used properly. It’s important that nursing home staff are trained in how to safely control the beds, as well as how to react to power failures and emergency situations.

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