Picture a traffic jam in a parking garage: Navigating the aisles requires some careful maneuvering when a lot of vehicles are present in a confined space.
A similar experience was observed in ECRI Institute’s main testing lab a few months ago, as Ismael Cordero jockeyed electric hospital beds from one spot to another. Cordero, a senior project engineer in ECRI Institute’s Health Devices Group, was the project lead for the nonprofit organization’s recent testing of hospital beds. The studies focused specifically on models designed for use in med/surg applications and those intended for use in critical care areas. With up to 10 hospital beds occupying the lab at any one time, the job did indeed require some careful maneuvering, as each bed was shuttled from one lab to another for various aspects of the testing.
ECRI Institute published its ratings for med/surg and critical care beds in December and January, respectively.
Bed Components and Features
The features available on a bed model will vary depending on the intended application; but, as ECRI Institute’s Cordero notes: “Most models are highly configurable. If there’s a feature that you want, you may just need to ask the manufacturer for it.”
The trend is toward “smart beds” that communicate information to caregivers to improve care or enhance patient safety. For example, some beds offer verbal safety alerts, such as a voice command stating “brake not set”; or the bed might offer visual safety projections, such as a status icon projected onto the floor to alert caregivers when the bed-exit alarm is deactivated. Such features may be of particular interest in med/surg areas, where the degree of patient movement and alertness can vary widely.
Regardless of the intended application, most electric beds marketed today consist of five major components:
Many new beds have visual bed status indicator bars at the foot of the bed for easy identification of the bed status by the caregiver.
Findings and Differentiating Factors
All the models that ECRI Institute tested for its recent evaluations performed acceptably. However, the models did differ in ways that could affect their appropriateness for particular healthcare facilities. Following are four areas where ECRI’s testing revealed factors that should be considered when making bed purchasing decisions.
This article is adapted from ECRI Institute’s “Evaluation Background: Electric Beds for Medical/Surgical Units” (Health Devices 2018 Dec 28) and “Evaluation Background: Electric Beds for Critical Care Units” (Health Devices 2019 Jan 30). The complete articles—including model-specific test results and product ratings, along with additional guidance for purchasing and using these types of beds—are available to members of ECRI Institute’s Health Devices System and associated programs. To learn more about membership, visit www.ecri.org/HealthDevices, or contact ECRI Institute by telephone at (610) 825-6000, ext. 5891, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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