Hospital Bed Mattress and Mattress Cover Safety

PUBLISHED: Nov 27, 2017
Relevant to: Ambulatory Care, Critical Access Hospitals, Home Health, Hospice, Hospitals, Long Term Care

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) a hospital bed refers to a variety of medical devices that are classified as beds. FDA regulations classify hospital beds as Class I and Class II devices. These devices are used for patients in acute care, long-term care, or home care settings. A hospital bed system encompasses the bed frame and its components, including the bed side rails, head and foot board, the mattress, and any accessories added to the bed, such a detachable mattress cover.

A hospital bed mattress cover provides outer protection to a mattress by preventing blood and other body fluids from entering the inside (inner core) of the mattress. Such covers may be coated with or contain an antimicrobial solution that kills germs (viruses or bacteria) or prevents bacterial growth. There are multiple terms used to describe hospital bed mattress covers: water-resistant (keeps liquid away from the material), water-proof (prevents liquid from entering inside the material), or water-repellent (keeps liquid away from the material and prevents liquid from entering inside the material). Covers are usually detachable from the mattress or the mattress lining, meaning that they can be removed or replaced.

Over time, hospital bed mattress covers can wear out and allow blood and body fluids to penetrate and get trapped inside mattresses. If blood or body fluids from one patient penetrate and get absorbed in a mattress, the fluids can leak out the next time the mattress is used. Coming into contact with these fluids poses a risk of infection to patients using the bed.

In 2013 the FDA issued a safety communication alerting health care providers, health care facility staff, and caregivers to safety concerns regarding hospital bed mattress covers. According to the FDA, from 2011 through 2016, the FDA has received over 700 reports of a hospital bed mattress cover failing to prevent blood or body fluids from leaking into the mattress.

The FDA, in conjunction with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has several recommendations to ensure hospital bed mattress cover safety:

  • Develop an inspection plan
  • Conduct routine inspections
  • Remove and replace damaged, visibly worn or stained mattresses and/or covers
  • Preform maintenance according to manufacturers guidelines

Included with today’s notice is an example policy related to the inspection and maintenance of hospital bed mattresses and covers.

The FDA has developed a poster addressing key safety aspects about hospital bed mattress covers, including the recommendations listed above. This poster, link below, is available for free download and can be used as a safety reminder about hospital bed mattress covers in health care settings.

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