Damaged Medical Bed Mattress May Pose Infection Risk: FDA

According to a warning issued by federal health officials, medical beds should be checked for potential signs of blood or bodily fluids from prior patients, which may leak into the mattress and spread infections to new patients.

The FDA issued a safety communication to health care centers on April 19, indicating that between January 2011 and January 2013, at least 458 reports have been received of medical bed mattress covers failing to prevent bodily fluids and blood from becoming trapped in the mattress.

Medical bed mattress covers are commonly used in hospitals, nursing homes and other patient care centers, whether it be for short-term or long-term stays. The covers are designed to be water-repellent, water-proof, or water-resistant. However, after continuous use, they may start to lose their effectiveness or begin to develop small tears which allows fluids to leak into the mattress. It is also possible that bodily fluids may penetrate mattress covers fluids through the zipper opening.

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Damaged medical bed mattresses may pose a particular risk at intensive care units, hospital emergency rooms, urgent care, ambulatory care, long term care, and diagnostic care centers, because of the more frequent exposure to blood and bodily fluids.

According to the FDA, medical literature shows that when a medical bed mattress becomes damaged or wet from other patients bodily fluids, the bed may become the source of contamination and pose an increased risk for an outbreak of infection.

To decrease the risk of infection, the FDA recommends:

  • Regularly inspecting for any visible signs of damage
  • Routinely removing the mattress cover to check the surface for stains
  • Regularly removing/replacing any visibly damaged or worn mattress bed covers and medical beds
  • Maintaining the area by disinfecting the medical beds mattress covers
  • Developing a routine inspection process
  • Tracking the expected lifetime of the mattress and mattress covers
  • Contacting the medical bed mattress manufacturer for further questions to better preserve them

Healthcare providers with questions may contact the Division of Small Manufacturers, International and Consumer Assistance (DSMICA) at 800-838-2401 or 301-796-7100 or visit them online at INDUSTRY.DEVICES@FDA.HHS.GOV.


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