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5 Nov 2001

VTT evaluates safety of patient beds

Motor-adjustable patient beds can cause accidents

Every year, thousands of new motor-adjustable beds are taken into use in Finland. These beds have sometimes caused accidents to patients due to hazards such as electrical malfunctions and collapsing structures.

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Tero Salminen
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Henceforth, electrically motor-adjustable hospital and home-use beds will be made safer than before. Thousands of new motor-adjustable beds are taken into use every year in Finland and one approved, motorised bed can cost anywhere between FIM 7,000 – 12,000 depending on what it is equipped with.

According to Tero Salminen, chief of maintenance at the City of Tampere Health Department, some patients have been involved in accidents caused by motor-adjustable beds. Hazardous situations have especially arisen in patients’ rooms where there have been lighting bars, gas connections or electricity sockets near beds equipped with an electrical adjuster and drip stand.

“The guarantee of a bed’s reliability not only facilitates matters for us decision-makers in medical and healthcare but also increases patient safety. It is a big advantage for Finnish bed manufacturers to be given an evaluation of their product in Finnish. Also, as more bed purchasers demand a guarantee of the bed’s safety, poor quality beds will be squeezed out of the market,” says Salminen

VTT Research Engineer Ari Josefsson explains that the principal Finnish manufacturers of hospital or home-use beds would like this kind of evaluation in accordance with international standards in Finland. The fact that a bed complies with mandatory safety requirements is also of competitive advantage to companies in international markets. VTT has just been accredited as the only authority in Finland competent to evaluate the safety of motor-adjustable beds.

In safety tests, VTT raises a home-use bed with a 170-kilogram load approximately 3,000 times, which corresponds to typical use over a number of years. Even when large loads are placed on the edge of a bed e.g. by sitting on it, they are not allowed to tip the bed, and the edges and sides of the bed must be capable of withstanding heavy traction and propulsive forces. When being moved, the sides of the bed must provide protection for the limbs of the person using the bed. The wheels of hospital beds must be able to withstand the strain of being pushed over raised thresholds. The international standard for hospital beds was approved 5 years ago.

An international standard for solid and assembled home-use electrical motor-adjustable beds was approved in 2000. Adjustable beds for home use are acquired by disabled people or those with limited mobility.

arijosefsson.jpg (15172 bytes) Further information:
VTT Automation
Ari Josefsson,
Research Engineer
Tel.: +358 (3) 316 3337


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