With the announcement this week by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Bed Handles Inc. of a voluntary recall of about 113,000 adult portable bed handles, our attention is once again drawn to how to help keep elderly people safe. The bed handles that are being recalled can shift out of place, creating a dangerous gap between the bed handle and the side of the mattress. This gap poses a serious risk of entrapment, strangulation and death. This defective product has already resulted in the death of three women.
Recalled models include the Original Bedside Assistant® (BA10W), the Travel Handles™ (BA11W) which is sold as a set of two bed handles, and the Adjustable Bedside Assistant® (AJ1). The bed handles are intended to assist adults with getting in and out of bed by giving them a bar to grip and were sold by home health care stores, drug stores and medical equipment stores nationwide and in home and health care catalogs from January 1994 through December 2007 for about $100.
This is just one example of a number of products that are designed for elderly users that can cause problems both in the home and in a commercial setting, such as a nursing home. Other examples include consumer goods that may be safe for younger users but can be dangerous for elderly users who have reduced reaction times and less strength.
Medical implants and medical equipment can also cause problems. Stryker Corporation, Smith & Nephew metal liners for hips, DePuy artificial hips, and Zimmer have all had implants or component parts of implants recalled. http://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/implantsandprosthetics/metalonmetalhipimplants/ucm241770.htm.
For Stryker implant information, visit http://www.stryker.com/en-us/products/Orthopaedics/modularneckstems/index.htm.
Walkers, wheelchairs and other mobility devices can fail while in use. In 2010, 2.3 million nonfatal fall injuries involving elderly people were treated in emergency rooms across the country. 21,700 elderly people died as a result of unintentional falls. Proper training is imperative to use mobility devices correctly.
As with all products, there are a variety of things that can cause mobility products to fail. Some of these products are very stable and well made. Others are poorly constructed, resulting in a product failure that can injure or kill the user. These products have failed because of:
- structural failures
- design failures
- fatigue failure of the metal
- welds that fail to securely adhere to structural components
- folding and adjusting failures, and
- brake failures.
If a product failure, medical implant, or medical equipment has injured or killed someone you know, it is important to have the product evaluated by a professional engineer that can determine whether there is a defect. Lawyers at Jinks, Crow & Dickson can assist with that evaluation.