An Investigation of the Ergonomics and Desirable Features of Hospital Beds for Medical Surgery, Critical Care, and Birthing Beds.

Chiemezie Anthony Udemba
Chiemezie Anthony Udemba

Patients and health professionals interact frequently and at times urgently with the hospital bed. My research evaluates the usefulness and usability of hospital beds for critical care, medical surgery, and birthing beds. Additionally, my research examines desirable characteristics as well as the ergonomic effectiveness of hospital bed design. Hospital beds are built intending to provide safety, comfort, and mobility for a wide range of patients with various diseases and treatment schedules. It is essential to understand how the design of hospital beds affects patient outcomes and healthcare provider performance using ergonomics and human factors research. Hospital beds are an essential component of the healthcare environment.

My motivation behind this study includes:

  • Medical errors are quite costly. Bed use errors are one category of these errors. Improving the usability of the beds will reduce costs associated with bed-use errors. While the beds all had features designed to reduce patient and caregiver injuries associated with bed use, time to train caregivers on bed features is rarely budgeted, so features that would reduce patient and caregiver injuries are not used correctly or at all. However, my goal was to find economical alternatives that increase the economic value and durability of hospital beds by looking at their ergonomics and attractive aspects. This may entail assessing the resilience, upkeep requirements, and flexibility of beds to adapt to various patient needs, resulting in better resource allocation and lower medical expenses.
  • Lacking design features can cause injury or death to patients. We had an elderly family friend who was sedated while hospitalized. The bed exit alarm was not used, or not used correctly. She woke up confused and began wandering down the hall. A fall while still coming out from sedation could have resulted in a broken hip. So “error-proofing” bed exit alarm controls so that they are used correctly is very important to preventing unnecessary patient injuries. Beds that do not have a readily apparent method of CPR placement can delay the administration of CPR itself. Hospital beds play an essential role in care and rehabilitation. Several instances of hospital beds impeding patient care have influenced my current research. I will share two such instances. An elderly….(Dr. Jerry L Purswell). A family friend prematurely left rehabilitation due to an uncomfortable hospital bed which did not allow for proper adjustments.  My advisor (Dr. Jerry P Purswell) at a previous school (Colorado State University-Pueblo) in the course of conducting a bed evaluation found caregivers were unable to put some of the hospital beds into a CPR position quickly.” 
  • Lacking bed design features can cause injury to the caregivers including RNs, CNAs, & others who are frequently tasked with positioning, and repositioning patients in the bed as well as helping them into or out of the bed. The caregiver population is aging & mostly female. Patient weights are monotonically increasing. Reduced lifting capacity with increased lifting demands is a prescription for more caregiver injuries. By making bed features and caregiver controls more intuitive, injuries to patients can be avoided. 
  • Patient comfort is one of the main goals in healthcare settings. The objective of my work is to increase patient comfort during medical procedures, critical care, rehabilitation, and childbirth by investigating the ergonomics and desirable features of hospital beds.
  • Patient-centered care is an essential aspect of modern healthcare. Throughout my research, I focus on the significance of customizing healthcare environments to individual patients’ requirements and preferences by examining the ergonomics and attractive aspects of hospital beds. A patient-centered care strategy that fosters dignity, autonomy, and a sense of control during hospital stays can be created by understanding how individual bed elements contribute to patient comfort and well-being. 
  • Patient safety and risk reduction are crucial in hospital bed design. Identifying possible dangers, poor design decisions, and areas for improvement are essential in the ergonomic investigation of the beds as well as identifying appealing features for a product. Minimizing the risk of falls, injuries, and pressure ulcers through focusing on safety features including adjustable height, side railings, and pressure redistribution all are included in the scope of this study/ research.
  • Hospital beds designed with ergonomic considerations may increase the effectiveness of healthcare workers/ providers. This research investigates task efficiency to make it easier for healthcare professionals to utilize hospital beds examining features such as adjustable positions, intuitive controls, and accessibility to medical devices and equipment. Improving healthcare provider efficiency can lead to better patient care and reduced workload strain.
  • Optimization of clinical outcomes is researched. Ergonomic beds that facilitate optimum patient placement including surgery site access can aid in successful treatments for medical procedures. Beds that allow for simple patient monitoring, respiration, and mobility can improve patient management in critical care. Additionally, birth beds designed with women’s comfort and support in mind can contribute to positive birth experiences. Investigating these aspects aims to optimize clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction.
  • Advances in healthcare technology and design are explored. Healthcare facilities are constantly looking for new, creative ways to enhance patient care as technology develops. My motivation came from a desire to explore new features and concepts in hospital bed ergonomics to promote healthcare technology and design. This can foster collaborations between healthcare professionals, engineers, and designers, leading to the development of better, more patient-centric solutions.
  • Consideration of enhanced postoperative recovery is paramount. For patients, the healing phase following surgery is crucial. During our research study, we ought to select features associated with hospital beds that promote the best postoperative recovery by concentrating on the ergonomics and desirable attributes of hospital beds in surgical settings. This can include adjustable positions, pressure redistribution mechanisms, and integrated support systems that promote healing, pain management, and early mobilization.
  • Innovation and continuous improvement are considered. The sector of healthcare is continually changing due to improvements in research, technology, and best practices. I wanted to contribute to the ongoing innovation and continual improvement of healthcare systems by looking into the safety, ergonomics, and desired qualities of hospital beds. The study’s conclusions can be used to build new bed designs and improve on current ones, keeping healthcare institutions at the forefront of patient care.

Overall, my investigation into the ergonomics and desirable features of hospital beds for medical surgery, critical care, and birthing beds reflects a commitment to enhancing patient comfort, safety, healthcare provider efficiency, clinical outcomes, the advancement of healthcare technology and design, patient well-being, healthcare efficiency, cost-effectiveness, human-centered design, postoperative recovery, and innovation within the healthcare industry. However, these hospital bed designs should consider height adjustment, mattress comfort, patient positioning, bed stability, electronic controls, integration of medical equipment, mobility, transport, and cleanability. The beds must allow for appropriate working postures and a manageable workload for transit to be practical.