Hospital bed mattresses: An overlooked healthcare hazard

Hospital beds are composed of many different parts: the bed frame, which includes the bed side rails, as well as a mattress and a mattress cover. Once a patient is discharged from the hospital, normally, the room will go through a substantial amount of cleaning, including the bed. The rails and bed frame will be wiped down and the bed cover will be changed in order to prepare for the next patient. However, one factor is often dismissed: the hospital bed mattress.

hospital-bed-matresses

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According to the ECRI Institute:

Bed and stretcher mattresses can remain contaminated after cleaning, putting patients and staff at risk of exposure to body fluids or microbiological contaminants. Reported incidents include patients lying on an apparently clean bed or stretcher when blood from a previous patient oozed out of the support surface onto the patient.

While hospital bed covers are changed regularly, many health care facilities fail to examine these bed covers for damages, heavy stains or tears. It is also important to note that mattress covers have an expected lifespan, and will become ineffective after this duration of time. All of these factors can lead to blood or any other body fluids leaking onto the hospital bed mattress, therefore leaving it contaminated.

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) makes several recommendations in order to overcome this healthcare hazard:

  • Inspect
  • Remove and Replace
  • Maintain
  • Develop an Inspection Plan

While companies who sell the mattress covers have the responsibility in properly explaining to healthcare facilities how to properly disinfect, clean and dispose of bed covers, it is crucial for healthcare facilities to use the necessary materials and procedures in order to clean and disinfect. Healthcare facilities must also regularly inspect both mattress covers and mattresses in order to prevent infection as much as possible.

Reference:

Infection Control Today. Vol. 22. No. 1. January 2018

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