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Nearly 500,000 adult bed rails recalled in U.S. after two asphyxiated

Risky bed rails still on the market
Risky bed rails still on the market 00:52

Nearly 500,000 bed rails sold nationwide are being recalled following two separate reports of deaths by asphyxiation for adult users trapped between their bed rails and mattresses.

The recall involves four models of Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare's Bed Assist Handle and Bed Assist Rail adult portable bed rails sold at medical stores and online by Amazon and Walmart, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Port Washington, New York-based supplier of medical equipment and services announced Monday.

RTL15063-ADJ Home Bed Assist Handle U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

The company received two reports of fatalities involving two of its bed rails, one occurring in February 2011 and the second in February 2015. A 93-year-old woman died at home in California and a 92-year-old man died at an assisted living facility in Canada. In both cases, the asphyxiations occurred when users became trapped between the product and their mattress. 

15064 Bed Assist Handle U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Drive sold about 496,000 of the recalled rails for $30 to $80 from October 2007 through December 2021.  Another 68,000 units were sold in Canada and about 120 in Mexico. 

15062 Bed Assist Rail with Folding Board U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Those who've purchased the rails should stop using them immediately and contact Drive for a refund, either by calling (877) 467-3099 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, or online here or here.

RTL15073 Home Bed Assist Handle U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

The name "Drive" and the model number are printed on a label on the product's metal tubing. The rails are made of steel tubing, either in white or chrome. Models RTL15063-ADJ and RTL15073 include black non-slip padding on the grip handle and under-bed frame. Model 15062 features a wooden under-bed board attached to the grip handle. Model RTL125063-ADJ is also being recalled. 

The CPSC in April warned Americans of the strangulation risks of three models of portable bedrails linked to the deaths of four elderly or disabled individuals. The agency's alert involved rails recalled six years earlier and then sold with safety straps thought to address the danger. 

An estimated 69,000 adults were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for rail-related injuries from 2003 to 2019, according to the CPSC. Among those incidents, 260 cases involved adult portable bed rails, including 247 fatalities, according to a July 2020 CPSC briefing paper.

Often purchased for sick or frail older people, the side rails or metal bars are used on hospital beds and in home care with the idea of helping patients pull themselves up or to keep them from falling out of bed. But the products — which are marketed as safety devices — have shown to be anything but for the thousands of older and disabled patients injured by them, sometimes fatally. 

The CPSC in June unveiled new safety standards to effectively eliminate inclined sleepers for babies under age five months after the products were linked to numerous infant deaths from asphyxiation.

But a decades-old effort to prevent similar hazards for elderly and disabled Americans has largely fizzled. Urged in a 2013 petition by Public Citizen and other advocates to ban bed rails, the federal agencies that oversee the products have instead focused on recalls and producing voluntary standards to improve their safety. 

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