Are Bed and Chair Alarms At Massachusetts Nursing Homes Harmful to Patients?

According to an article in The Boston Globe, alarms attached to wheelchairs and beds of patients at nursing homes may be more harmful than helpful. These pressure-sensitive devices, often installed in beds and wheelchairs are meant to alert staff when someone who is at risk of falling may be about to do just that. The devices were seen as a better alternative to both physical restraints, which became illegal two decades ago, and bedrails, which have since become known as entrapment and asphyxiation hazards.

However, according to a study published in The Annals of Internal Medicine in 2012, hospital bed alarms don’t seem to be reducing the number of fall incidents. Also, while the alarm warns of a likely fall, often, by the time help has arrived the patient has already fallen. It doesn’t help that making a patient to sit or lie still so an alarm won’t go off actually restricts mobility and increases the risk of falling.’

One Massachusetts rehabilitation center, Hebrew Rehab, with facilities in Dedham and Roslindale, has practically gotten rid of all such alarms over the last few years. Since then, reports The Globe, the number of fall incidents at their facilities has not gone up, and more of the residents are getting dressed, eating, and walking on their own. Staff members are also more likely to personally monitor anyone who is a high fall risk rather than relying on a device.

Massachusetts nursing homes are supposed to make sure patients are properly protected and taken care of when at the facility. Failure to do so may be grounds for a Boston nursing home negligence case. Please contact Altman & Altman LLP if you think that your loved one’s health complications or injuries are because they were the recipient of inadequate nursing care or the victim of abuse.

Sometimes, supposed safety devices may pose an injury risk—if the product was faulty there may be reason to pursue a products liability case against a manufacturer, seller, or distributor. Defective medical devices can also be a cause of injury or death for a resident.

Other reasons for a Massachusetts nursing home abuse or neglect case if serious injuries or a death was involved:

  • Unexplained bruises of fractures
  • Malnutrition
  • Choking accidents
  • Fall accidents
  • Slip and fall incidents
  • Unnecessary restraints
  • Hazards on the premise
  • Bedsores
  • Inadequate care
  • Inadequate supervision of nursing staff
  • Inadequate supervision of residents
  • Wandering-related accidents
  • Sexual assault
  • Verbal abuse
  • Sexual harassment
  • Rape
  • Financial abuse
  • Financial theft
  • Emotional violence
  • Sepsis
  • Clogged breathing tubes
  • Medical malpractice

If you suspect that your loved one is in physical or emotional danger at a Massachusetts nursing home, you may want to consider removing the resident from the facility right away and notifying the authorities. Your initial case consultation with our Boston personal injury law firm is free.

Nursing homes find bed, chair alarms do more harm than good, The Boston Globe, March 13, 2015

Effects of an intervention to increase bed alarm use to prevent falls in hospitalized patients, Annals of Internal Medicine, November 20, 2012


More Blog Posts:

New Rules Allow Frail Elders to Continue Residing in Massachusetts Assisted Living Facilities, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 6, 2015

First Risperdal Injury Trial Against Johnson & Johnson Results in $2.5M Verdict, Drug Injury Lawyers Blog, March 5, 2015

Massachusetts Nursing Assistants Sustain Back Injuries, Repetitive Trauma, Other Work Injuries, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 12, 2015


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