Making sure mattresses comply with siderail regulations

Bedside and siderail regulations are in place to help stop unnecessary injuries from occurring. Unfortunately, it has been known that patients have died from getting stuck or trapped between beds and siderails, so it’s incredibly important the ensure that your equipment is being installed and used correctly.

We’ve already covered the safe use of bedrails, but another thing to think about is the actual mattress itself. How can you make sure your mattress complies with regulations, and what factors could alter this?

What are the bedrail guidelines?

Published by the government back in 2013, this set of siderail regulations were drawn up to ensure that all care organisations (both private and public) used equipment that would not endanger the lives of patients.

This includes looking at the quality, structure, and measurements of siderails – particularly third-party models that aren’t necessarily designed specifically for the bed they are being used on.

Another facet of the siderail guidelines includes mattresses. Dimensions, materials, and additional features can all have an impact on how the mattress interacts with the bed.

Mattress Materials

These guidelines were put together with a standard mattress in mind, but things are a bit different if you’re using a foam or air mattress.

As you can imagine, air and foam mattresses are much more malleable and will change to suit the user’s body weight distribution. This means that there is a possibility that the dimensions of the mattress may change, which will affect your measurements for the bedrail standards.

There must be at least 220mm between the top of the mattress and the top of the siderails to prevent patients from toppling over them. If you use an air mattress that inflates and puts the user at a higher position, then they will be closer to the top of the siderails.

You must, therefore, adjust the equipment accordingly to make sure that the ≥220mm gap is always sustained.

Air and foam mattresses can also spread horizontally to accommodate the user’s weight. Bedrail regulations specify that there must be a maximum of 120mm between the mattress platform (and the edge of the mattress) and the siderail. Always ensure that these measurements are upheld.

Using Mattress Overlays

In a similar way, mattress overlays can skew your measurements between the top of the mattress and the top of the siderails.

If the gap is measuring at 220mm as suggested, then you put a 50mm thick overlay on top, the gap will now be too small. This extra height makes it easier for the patient to topple over the siderails and injure themselves.

It’s important to remember that you should really be measuring from the top of the overlay to get an accurate reading. Although it’s not really specified in the regulations, we always recommend measuring from the highest surface of the bed.

Padded & Inflatable Bedside

For patients with more complex needs, you may want to use inflatable or padded sides on the bed. This is fine, but it’s a bit of a double-edged sword when it comes to the guidelines.

Using these specialist bedsides can actually help to secure the mattress in place and maintain smaller gaps, which poses less of a threat to the person. On the other hand, inflated sides must be fully inflated at all times to ensure that a person’s extremities do not get trapped between them and the mattress.

Make sure that staff checks inflated sides regularly to see if they are fully inflated.

These are the key things to consider with mattress regulations and such in relation to siderails. We always recommend taking measurements and using the right equipment to provide the best care to patients.

If you’re stuck for a way to measure, then please download our free bedrail regulation tool that will help you keep on top of any dimensions!