Evaluation Background: Electric Beds for Medical/Surgical Units

January 30, 2019 | Evaluations & Guidance


Here's background for our Evaluations of medical/surgical beds, outlining the key considerations for making wise purchasing decisions. Learn how the technology is used, which specs are important, and what factors we test for. Also review our latest product ratings and ECRI Institute's data describing hospitals' interest in each vendor.

Electric beds for medical/surgical use allow patients and staff to adjust the bed's height and position without the need for manual force, reducing both time and strain. In addition to having motorized height and position adjustment, medical/surgical beds may include other features like integrated scales and bed-exit alarms. Some also include features like removable headboards and footboards, motorized drives for transport, additional positioning options, and x-ray compatibility.

Beds are a relatively mature technology. New changes relate to connectivity and "smart" bed features. Many of these features work in conjunction with a specialized support surface/mattress to deliver patient-specific therapy. In addition, bed manufacturers have focused on improving ease of use for staff and patients. Powered transport and positioning features have been further developed to reduce staff strain. Safety considerations have been incorporated in new designs, with features to reduce two of the major bed risks: falls and entrapment.

Major components typically include the following:

  1. Bed frame. Holds a patient support surface/mattress and is typically divided into three or four segments that allow the bed to be positioned in various ways. Some examples may include: Fowler, semi-Fowler, Trendelenburg, reverse Trendelenburg, cardiac chair, and hyperextension.

  2. Bed motors. Used to adjust the height of the bed and to move the head and knee sections. Some beds have a motor to help propel the bed during transports.

  3. Patient controls. Include controls for adjusting the height of the head and knee sections and a nurse call button

  4. Caregiver controls. Include controls for special bed...

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