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MHRA Bed Furniture Safety Alert: Navigating the journey to compliance

by Paul Cooper, Professional Head of Occupational Therapy at The OT Practice

As the deadline for MHRA bed standards and siderail provision compliance draws near, I find myself reflecting on the continual responsibility and importance of ensuring patient safety within our healthcare services. It's not just about ticking boxes or meeting regulatory requirements; it's about safeguarding the lives and well-being of those entrusted to our care. Patient safety is paramount in any healthcare setting, and the recent alert has shed light on the pressing issue of entrapment risks associated with medical equipment. Entrapment incidents can have severe consequences, ranging from physical injuries to fatalities.

The entrapment risks in healthcare settings extend beyond hospitals to encompass residential care facilities, and home care environments with each setting presenting its own unique challenges. In acute care, rapid patient turnover and diverse patient populations amplify the challenge of ensuring compatibility of equipment whilst long-term care facilities face challenges related to patient mobility, varying medical conditions, and the need for specialised equipment. The community setting introduces additional complexities, including limited space, diverse household layouts, and reliance on family caregivers, necessitating comprehensive risk assessments and tailored equipment solutions.

In this blog post, I want to delve into some of the critical risk factors highlighted by the MHRA safety alert and how they resonate with my own previous experiences as an OT when working in social care completing bed rails risk assessments.

Firstly, let's talk about risk assessments - or rather, the lack thereof. It's alarming to realise that some people may be at significant risk of harm, simply because a comprehensive risk assessment hasn't been conducted. Every individual under our care deserves to have their unique needs and potential risks thoroughly evaluated and addressed. I do believe in general, OTs are very good at completing this, but we must not be complacent.

Then there's the issue of updating risk assessments. It's all too easy for changes in equipment or a patient's condition to go unnoticed and unaccounted for. Yet, these seemingly small oversights can have significant consequences. As someone deeply invested in the well-being of people in receipt of healthcare, I understand the importance of staying vigilant and proactive in ensuring that risk assessments are consistently updated to reflect any changes.

Maintenance and servicing are also crucial aspects that demand our attention. It's not enough to simply acquire the latest bed-related equipment; we must also commit to its ongoing care and upkeep. Neglecting maintenance not only compromises equipment functionality but also jeopardizes patient safety.

And let's not forget about compatibility issues. Ensuring that accessories and mattresses are compatible with the equipment being used may seem like a minor detail, but it can make all the difference in preventing accidents or injuries.

Perhaps one of the most poignant revelations from the MHRA alert is the realisation that some people may be using equipment that is wholly unsuitable for their needs. It's heartbreaking to think that individuals with atypical anatomy or children may be subjected to unnecessary risks simply because the equipment available to them isn't designed with their specific requirements in mind.

Here at The OT Practice we have doubled our efforts to ensure that every aspect of client care - from risk assessments to accessibility and development of staff training- is given the attention and care it deserves. By doing so, we hope to not only meet the requirements set forth by the MHRA but, more importantly, to honour the trust and confidence that our clients place in us every day.

We have also developed a robust and cost-effective Bed Risk Assessment Review service that supports the urgent requirements of the MHRA alert. We acknowledge the alert requires a substantial amount of additional work by organisations at a time when budgets, and workforce capacity, are severely constrained. This new service provides a swift and up to date risk assessment and identifies where equipment provision needs reviewing.

As I reflect on these challenges, I am reminded of the immense responsibility that comes with being a OT. It's not just about treating illnesses or alleviating symptoms; it's about creating an environment where people feel safe, valued, and empowered.

If you have any questions regarding this article or you want to explore the new Bed Risk Assessment Review service contact Daren our Head of Sales.

READ MORE: National Patient Safety Alert: Medical beds, trolleys, bed rails, bed grab handles and lateral turning devices: risk of death from entrapment or falls (NatPSA/2023/010/MHRA)

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