Americans are being urged to immediately stop using three models of portable bedrails sold online by Walmart and other retailers because they pose a deadly risk of entrapment and strangulation, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. The product is linked to the deaths of four elderly or disabled individuals, the agency cautioned.
The rails were recalled half a dozen years ago and then sold with safety straps thought to address the danger. That proved not to be the case. “CPSC evaluated the bedrails and found that they can allow an individual to become entrapped between the bedrail and mattress, or within the portions of the bedrail itself, leading to asphyxia,” CPSC stated in its warning on Thursday.
The rails include the Adjustable Bedside Assistant (model #AJ1), the Original Bedside Assistant (model# BA10W) and the Travel Handles (model# BA11W), which is sold as a set of two bed handles. The model numbers can be found on a white label located on the bottom of the handle.
“We believe that about 193,000 units were manufactured, but do not know how many might still be in use,” a CPSC spokesperson said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch.
The manufacturer of the products, Bed Handles Inc., based in Blue Springs, Missouri, is no longer in business, but the bedrails have continued to be sold online at Walmart.com, MedontheGo.com, soymedical.com, bpimedicalsupply.com, sonomasurgical.com and other retailers for around $80 to $100. The products have also been found for sale on secondary sites like eBay.com.
The now-defunct company and CPSC in May 2014 announced a nationwide recall of roughly 113,000 of the portable bed handles, saying three people had died after becoming ensnared between the mattress and bed handles. The fatalities involved an elderly woman in an assisted living facility in Edina, Minnesota; a 41-year-old disabled woman in an adult family home in Renton, Washington; and an 81-year-old woman in a managed care facility in Vancouver, Washington.
The company re-announced its recall the following year following another death and a less-than 1% response rate to its initial recall. The fourth reported fatality involved a 90-year-old woman in a senior residence who became entrapped in a gap between her mattress and bed handle, according to the October 2015 notice.
The three recalled models were made in the U.S. and sold for about $100 from January 1994 through December 2007, at which point the company continued to manufacturer them, but with retention straps.
The recall notice urged people to stop using the rails made through 2007 to contact the company for safety retention straps, which could be used to secure the bed handle to the frame and, in theory, prevent a dangerous gap. Since then, the bedrails have been sold with retention straps, but the CPSC has found that the straps don’t offer adequate protection, the agency said in its warning Thursday.