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What defines a Safety Bed?

Hospital Beds, Institutional Beds, Safety beds or Adaptive Beds all share a common goal of keeping the user safe from falling out or injuring themselves as a result of being in bed.   The term “safety bed” is overused and a firm definition is hard to to find.  We feel for a bed to be considered a safety bed it must address a few very specific issues.

1) Fall Protection:   built into the structure of the bed should be some physical barrier to minimize the likelihood that the patient can fall out of bed.  In many patients this protection has to apply while the patient is awake and moving around, not just while sleeping.

2) Protection from Entanglement / Entrapment:  built into the design of the bed is a reduction of gaps and openings to minimize the likelihood of the patient becoming stuck in the frame or between mattress and frame.  For more information on this topic, please see below.

3) Caregiver assistance to exit:  similar to many safety products,  the safety features should not be able to be accidentally disengaged.  Many patients are unable to safely exit a bed and/or are not safe to be allowed unsupervised mobility as they are a danger to themselves or others.

4) One hand operation: doors or openings should be easy to operate.  Doors should be able to be opened or closed with one hand  which allows the free hand to assist patient as needed.  At no point should the caregiver have to divert his/her attention away from the user to operate the unit.

Little Known Facts

  1. While fall protection is important in a safety bed,  Entrapment is the greatest danger to the medically feeble and disabled.
  2. Based on studies done by the FDA if a patient is trapped or entangled in one or more of the 7 Zones as outlined in their treatise, 77% of the time the person will be injured and 59% of the time the patient will die.
  3. Many traditional hospital beds are totally unsafe for pediatric, adolescent and disabled youth because these patients’ smaller size and other medical conditions require specialized protection.
  4. Physical protection should only be part of the consideration when selecting safety products.  Psychological and developmental impacts carry serious long term implications and should be part of the bed selection.  Finally, do not overlook the well being of the care givers who need to work in and around these products.  
  5. Safety Beds are a distinctly different product from traditional hospital beds.
  6. Drop side (doors that slide down guillotine style) beds or cribs are not approved for use in a home by the CPSC and FDA.

Beds By George Safety Beds satisfy the FDA
standards for anti-entrapment.

7 Zones of Entrapment?  As outlined by the FDA

Click HERE for official FDA statement

Synopsis: Entrapment is simply the term meaning the patient has gotten some part of himself stuck or “trapped” in or on any portion of the bed. The FDA in conjunction with other research has determined these areas of entrapment are safety risks to the patient and care needs to be given to minimize or eradicate those risks.

Hospital Beds, Institutional Beds, Safety beds or Adaptive Beds all share a common goal of keeping the user safe. Some beds have additional features such as articulation, tilting, turning, etc. which has the potential to create additional risks. When those features are electrified or those features can be initiated by the user, the level of risk increases yet again.

The risks are magnified when considering patients who for whatever reason have a lesser ability to a)prevent b)extract themselves from an actual or potential entrapment situation. For example, low muscle tone patients or patients who have limited muscular control at any time while in bed have a greater likelihood of becoming stuck, injured, or even die.

FDA’s Potential Zones of Entrapment

This guidance describes seven zones in the hospital bed system where there is a potential for patient entrapment. Entrapment may occur in flat or articulated bed positions, with the rails fully raised or in intermediate positions. Descriptions of the seven entrapment zones appear below. 

        Zone    Description

  1. Within the Rail
  2. Under the Rail, Between the Rail Supports or Next to a Single Rail Support
  3. Between the Rail and the Mattress
  4. Under the Rail, at the Ends of the Rail
  5. Between Split Bed Rails
  6. Between the End of the Rail and the Side Edge of the Head or Foot Board
  7. Between the Head or Foot Board and the Mattress End

Links and resources

Hospital Bed System Dimensional & Assessment Guidance to Reduce Entrapment – Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff” (published March 2006) illustrations courtesy of the FDA

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