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What Is an Electric Hospital Bed?

By Patrick Lynch
Updated May 17, 2024
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An electric hospital bed is specifically designed for patients in need of medical treatment. The bed is used for those waiting for a doctor's attention and is also used for overnight stays. The main benefits of an electric bed include the ability to raise and lower the bed electronically, which is useful for severely injured patients who wish to make themselves more comfortable. The safety railings on this kind of bed are also controlled electronically. Electric beds are extremely expensive, however and have also caused the deaths of young children on rare occasions.

The first electric hospital bed was created around 1945. The original model also had a toilet built-in, ostensibly to eliminate the need for a bedpan. This plan was later abandoned and the beds were replaced with the modern beds seen in hospitals today.

An electric hospital bed has wheels that allow it to be easily transported to another part of the hospital. Normally, however, the bed will be moved just a few inches to aid patient comfort. It is also possible to lock the wheels for patient safety.

The feature which gives an electric hospital bed its name is its ability to be raised and lowered, electronically, to the patient's specifications. This movement can be initiated with a remote control, is in contrast to older beds that had to be manually raised and lowered. There are also semi-electric hospital beds with two motors. One of these motors is designed to raise the bed, the other lowers it.

Raising just the head of the bed is common as it is from this position that patients eat and drink. It is also a position that is conducive to improved breathing. Elevating the foot of the bed may be necessary for certain medical conditions, especially leg injuries.

There are also metal rails on an electric hospital bed that can also be operated by remote control. The rails are used for safety reasons and ensure that the patient remains safe and secure in the bed. Various governments have been forced to issue guidelines relating to the safety of rails after dozens of deaths were reported each year in places like the United States and the United Kingdom.

One of the main problems with an electric hospital bed is its excessive cost. It is estimated that a single electric hospital bed can cost more than $100,000 US dollars. There have also been tragic incidents where young children were crushed such beds when the children were unsupervised.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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