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Medical Beds: General Information

Learn more about Medical Beds features, types, maintenance and costs

Medical beds are specially designed beds for the comfort and well-being of elderly, disabled or chronically ill people as well as for the convenience of their caretaker. Common features of medical beds include adjusting the height of the bed (to make it easier for caretakers to tend to patients or for the safety of users that are prone to rolling over the side of the bed) and raising the head or the foot areas for comfort or for users to watch TV or eat.

Medical beds consist of the frame, and bed deck. Bed frames are vital for support and stability. Head and foot boards should be durable and easy to clean. Some manufacturers offer different styles and colors of wood to match your home décor.

The height of medical beds is adjustable.  For caregivers tending to patients, higher positions are preferable.  Lower positions make it easier for the patient to get on and off the bed. For patients that are prone to falling out of bed, beds that may be lowered to less than 10” (bed deck to floor) may be the solution. Half or full rails for the sides of the bed may also be helpful.

There may be wheels or castors on the end of the bed legs to make it easier to maneuver. When not moving the bed from one area to another, the wheels should be locked in place to prevent rolling.

Bed decks provide support for the mattress. For medical beds, they are typically in 2 or 3 pieces so the head section can rise up independent of the foot section and vice versa. They may also have a break in the knee section for the knees to be lifted higher than the hips and feet or to go into the cardiac chair position to improve circulation and breathing for people recovering from heart surgery or respiratory illnesses.

There are 3 main types of medical beds: manual, semi-electric and full electric.

Manual Beds: All components are raised and lowered using hand cranks that are often found at the foot of the bed.

Semi-electric Beds: An electric motor is used to raise and lower the head and foot portions of the bed. The height of the bed is adjusted manually with a hand crank.

Full electric Beds: Electric motors are used to raise and lower the head and leg portion of the bed as well as the height.

Mattresses for medical beds are sold separately unless included in a package. Finding the right mattress is very important for the patient, especially for those that will be spending the majority of the day in bed. Bed sores (pressure sores/ulcers or decubitus ulcers) are painful and selecting the right mattress may help prevent them. There are 4 main types of mattresses: innerspring, which feels more like a traditional mattress, therapeutic foam mattresses that can decrease pressure and heat in certain areas to help prevent bed sores, alternating pressure mattresses that alter the inflation and deflation in areas to promote circulation and relieve pressure points that cause bed sores, and low air-loss mattresses that provide pressure relief as well as manage skin moisture by circulating air across the skin.

Maintenance of Medical Beds

Always refer to your owner’s manual for specific information regarding cleaning and maintenance.

In general, you may clean all powder coated metal surfaces with a mild detergent and warm water; be sure to wipe dry.

Periodically raise and lower the head and feet sections to remove dust from the frame.