Most people will never purchase a used mattress, as you never know where or what has taken place on that mattress. Some may even be leery of using hotel beds for the same reason, but what about medical mattresses? Do you ever wonder what exactly took place on the hospital bed that you are laying on?
According to their Safety Communication, from January 2011 to January 2013, the FDA received 458 reports associated with medical bed mattress covers failing to prevent blood and other body fluids from leaking into the mattress.
“Fluid ingress may occur if mattress covers become worn or damaged from small holes or rips in the fabric or from incorrect cleaning, disinfecting and laundering procedures,” the FDA warns.
Some reports indicate that if blood and other body fluids from one patient penetrate a mattress, they can later leak out from the mattress when another patient is placed on the bed, placing patients at risk for infection if they come into contact with blood and other body fluids from other patients, the FDA says.
According to the medical literature, damaged and soiled medical mattresses can be a source of contamination during infection outbreaks, the agency notes.
The agency is concerned that fluid ingress from worn or damaged medical bed mattress covers may be “widespread and largely under-recognized” by healthcare providers, healthcare facility staff, and caregivers.
According to the report, the types of mattresses may include alternating pressure (ac-powered) air flotation mattresses, non-powered flotation mattresses, and other mattresses that are part of hospital beds. Medical bed mattress covers may be coated with or contain a substance that kills germs (viruses or bacteria) or prevents bacterial growth. There are multiple terms used to describe medical bed mattress covers: water-resistant (keeps liquid away from the material), water-proof (prevents liquid from entering inside the material), or water-repellent (keeps liquid away from the material and prevents liquid from entering inside the material).
Medical bed mattress covers, whether water-resistant, water-proof, or water-repellent, may lose their effectiveness over time, the FDA says. The duration of time that a medical bed mattress cover is expected to last (expected life) varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. In addition, the expected life of a medical bed cover may differ from that of the mattress itself. For example, a medical bed mattress may have a longer expected life than the mattress cover.
The FDA is recommending specific recommendations for inspection and maintenance of medical bed mattresses and mattress covers, which includes, regularly checking each medical bed mattress cover for any visible signs of damage or wear, such as cuts, tears, cracks, pinholes, snags, or stains, routinely removing the medical bed mattress cover and check its inside surface, etc. They also recommend removing and replacing any damaged, worn, or visibly stained medical bed mattress according to the healthcare facility’s procedures and manufacturer’s instructions.
The FDA says it will continue to monitor this issue and keep concerned parties informed if new information becomes available.