Effectiveness of bedrails in preventing falls among hospitalized older adults: a systematic review

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Abstract

Background

Falls are a major problem today affecting adults of any age, but the elderly are a population that is more susceptible to falls. Falls are the leading cause of injury or death among older adults. Hospitalized older people are particularly vulnerable to falls. Falls cause direct injuries (minor injuries, severe wounds of the soft tissues and bone fractures) to patients and increased length of stay. The prevention of falls is commonly considered an indicator of the quality of care. Therefore, health institutions and professionals treat the identification and implementation of strategies to prevent or minimize their effects as a high priority. Fall prevention interventions involving physical restraints are still common and considered a primary preventative measure, despite controversy in their use. One of the most frequently used restraint interventions is bedrails. The question of the effectiveness of bedrails in preventing falls cuts across all societies and cultures and has with significant implications for the clinical practice of nurses.

Objectives

The objective of this review was to identify the effectiveness of the use of bedrails in preventing falls among hospitalized older adults when compared with no use of bedrails or any type of physical restraints.

Inclusion criteria Types of participants

The current review considered studies that included hospitalized adults (female and male), 65 years and over with any clinical condition in a non-intensive care unit (ICU).

Types of intervention(s)

The current review considered studies that evaluated the use of bedrails as a restraint to prevent falls among older adults in non-ICUs compared to no use of bedrails or any type of physical restraints, for example, bedrails versus no bedrails, and bedrails versus no wrist or ankle ties.

Types of studies

The current review considered any randomized controlled trials (RCTs). In the absence of RCTs, other research designs such as non-RCTs, before and after studies, cohort studies, case-control studies, descriptive studies, case series/reports and expert-opinion were considered.

Outcomes

The current review considered studies that included primary outcomes (number of patients who fell or the number of falls per patient) and secondary outcomes (number of head trauma, bone fractures or soft tissue injuries).

Search strategy

The search strategy aimed to find both published and unpublished articles. A three-step search strategy was utilized in 13 databases. Articles published in Portuguese, English and Spanish beginning from 1980 were considered for inclusion.

Methodological quality

Assessment of methodological quality was not conducted as no articles were identified that met the inclusion criteria.

Data extraction and data synthesis

Data extraction and synthesis was not performed, because no articles were included in this systematic review.

Results

The search identified a total of 875 potentially relevant articles. Sixteen articles were identified through the reference lists of all identified articles. One hundred and thirteen full-text papers were assessed by two independent reviewers to determine eligibility. However, 11 articles were not found (despite all the efforts), and 102 articles did not meet the inclusion criteria.

Conclusion

There is no scientific evidence comparing the use of bedrails in preventing falls among hospitalized older adults to no use of bedrails or any type of physical restraints.

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