Infection Questions Raised Over Hospital Bed Railings

Questions are being raised over the cleanliness of bed railings used at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and whether accumulated debris is a result of poor cleaning, or manufacturer design defaults.

Based on interviews with employees and photographs from a physician whose wife noticed the problem during her treatment at the hospital, state inspectors were called in to the facility. By the time the Pennsylvania Department of Health visited, the problem had been corrected through enhanced training and internal inspections.

After learning of the issue, hospital officials began looking at ways to remedy the problem, including questioning the railing manufacturer.

According to reports on, the beds have recessed “alcoves” that can collect and trap debris, which can be extremely difficult to clean. The area of concern falls below the surface of the beds, but could be considered dangerously close to tubes used to deliver medication to patients.

Hospital officials commented, “Infection control is among our highest priorities, and we are fully cooperative with all regulatory review processes. We are taking this matter very seriously, and have worked closely with the manufacturer to implement enhanced cleaning protocols to ensure patient safety.”

The state reports found no evidence that any patients were harmed by the debris. And officials did comment that railings designed this way could cause problems in any hospital.

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