A 94-year-old Pennsylvania woman died recently after she slipped and got trapped between the railings on her bed and her mattress. The woman was living at a nursing home facility, but it is unknown how long she had been stuck before nursing home officials realized there was a problem.
While some people may think that this is an unusual accident, the risk of asphyxiation for elderly patients that use beds with railings has been known for at least 20 years. According to government data, the Food and Drug Administration has known about at least 500 similar deaths in recent years. Experts say that the elderly are particularly prone to this problem because the suffocation can lead to unconsciousness so quickly, and often these individuals are not strong enough to free themselves.