Side rails must be used to promote safety. Right? I mean, everyone knows this is true. Ask anyone on the street. We have seen it in movies and on TV. Many nurses will even tell you that side rails are essential and should always be used.
The simple fact is that side rails are considered a restraint. “What?” you may ask. Let me explain. When you have a child and you don’t want them running around unattended, where do you put them? In a crib or a playpen. This is designed to keep them in a confined area – usually against their will. In a clinical setting, if you have a patient you don’t want moving around unattended, putting up the side rails can help keep them in bed. Usually against their will. The difference here? Nothing…well except that the patient is an adult with the right of self-determination and independence. Putting the side rails up to keep a patient in bed interferes with the patient’s rights and is considered a restraint.
Let’s put this in perspective for you. At your home, you can get up and walk around anywhere and anytime you choose. Want to go to the bathroom? Get a drink? Grab the remote? All allowed. At any time. Midnight snack? Sure! No one is standing there saying, “No, you can’t” or “It’s not safe” or “You might fall”. No matter your physical ability or current mental state, you can determine the actions that you think are appropriate for yourself and choose to take those actions because you are the one that will suffer the consequences. Now, take that same person (you) and put them inside a medical establishment and all of a sudden OTHER people want to determine what you can and cannot do. Most people will not sit still for such treatment. After all, you are an adult and have been taking care of yourself for YEARS. How dare someone else think they can do a better job? Very few people like being treated like a child once they are an adult.