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Technical Insights: Hospital Beds

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Technical Insights: Hospital Beds


Unit Description:

We all use beds to catch some rest after a long day, but what makes a hospital bed so special? Hospital beds are the primary point for administrating patient care in modern medicine. When you hear that a Doctor has good or bad bedside manners, this refers to the patient’s bed area. The hospital bed is also the primary resting point for patients during acute recovery and long-term care.


The hospital bed has seen much evolution since the invention of electricity. This modality has gone from simple cots and stretchers to versatile, high-tech machines capable of reading vital signs without external devices.

History of Evolution:

-Hospital beds began as simple stretchers in medieval Britain. Beds with adjustable rails were introduced between 1815-1825 [1]

-The push-button bed design was invented in 1945, consisting of three sections (head, middle, knee) that operate together or independently of each other.

-Today beds are being mass-produced that deploy built-in Wi-Fi, and Infrared scanners for detecting vital signs (Centrella ref). More advanced ICU beds use air mattresses built into the frame system for advanced rotation, percussion, and alternating functionality when it’s required [2]




As mentioned previously, hospital beds are the point of care for a patient who is ill or recovering from a surgical procedure. However, the applications of the hospital beds span beyond acute care. Electric beds now assist caregivers by alleviating the risk of repetitive strain injuries during the administration of the hospital and while the patient is sleeping [3]. The following is a list of applications for hospital beds:


  • Safety: Siderails protect the patient from falling out of the bed and may also act as a support for patients entering/leaving the bed. Alarms may also be built into the system to indicate when a patient has fallen for immediate assistance


  • Circulation and Bedsore Treatment: Air mattress systems and independent motor controls allow the patient to be repositioned easily without the need for constant supervision by the caregiver. The patient benefits from improved circulation, while the caregiver now has time to treat more patients


  • Transferring: Most hospital beds will have castors and a steering system for mobility and patient transfer. These systems are critical for allowing the patient to be safely transferred to appointments or different clinical settings without the risk of further injury



Hospital beds require functionality and patient safety at the forefront of the design stage. Many manufacturers reflect this mindset, going beyond the minimum required features, such as Span America.




Modern electric beds typically follow the above figure’s design: Three deck sections for independent movement of actuators, castors (wheels), boards or side rails designed to prevent the patient from falling, a control pendant and a brake system. These modalities incorporate both mechanical and electronic components to function. Hospital beds, due to their very nature require regular service to ensure optimal performance and safety. It is imperative to incorporate a Preventative Maintenance program into your policies that are done by a trusted service provider.

This model, the Span MC9RW Encore, has patient-centric versatility and design considerations built-in. Beds upon request are expandable to 42” width to accommodate a bariatric patient with ease (up to 600lbs). This eliminates the process of ordering a compatible bed.

Furthermore, safety features include a Low Height warning indicator for the clinicians, ergonomic side rails for easy grip at various angles, and a bumper to protect the walls.

Finally, this bed includes a whopping eight castors for smooth movement throughout the facility without the need for a complicated Drive/Steer system [4].



It is said variety is the spice of life. Manufacturers provide optional accessories or upgrades for the customer to suit their clinical environment needs. Follow this link to see all the configuration options from Span America and build your custom bed: www.spanamerica.com/config.




Hospital beds must comply with rigorous municipal, provincial, and federal standards to be deemed safe for use on a patient. The bed must be CSA, and Health Canada approved for use in Canada. Most beds will be classified as Class I or II medical devices in the Health Canada Medical Device License system.


Codes and Standards include: CAN/CSA-C22.2 NO. 60601-1-1-02, Health Canada Standards, Ontario Electrical Safety Code, IEC 60601-2-38


The risk of entrapment and rail latch failure is given special consideration from Health Canada. On average, an incident of patient entrapment or rail latch failure is reported to Health Canada every three months [5]. TRH Services can provide valuable assessments, repair and preventative maintenance for Hospital beds to reduce the risk of failure down the road.



Preventative Maintenance and Troubleshooting:


TRH Services is your trusted source for hospital and treatment bed maintenance. Our company is associated with CSA, D&B, WSIB, and has a Health Canada establishment license for medical devices.


We know the hardships of an ageing bed fleet or new acquisitions. Our process of preventative maintenance is efficient, working with the manufacturers to receive parts, and assisting in the assessment of damaged beds to get them back on their castors.


Typically, the Biomedical Technologist will arrive onsite and work with the clinical staff to complete maintenance wherever the beds are. This helps to maintain the workflow of the facility. Another bonus is the fact all beds are recorded electronically by TRH Services. The data includes current room location and serial numbers to give the clinical team the most up-to-date look at where their assists are. This also streamlines the repair process, reducing downtime for the department.

The Biomedical Technologist will assess:


  • Power cords for damage, pinched sections, or frayed wires
  • Actuators or motors
  • Patient and care-giver controls
  • Side rails and latches
  • The mattress for damage, wear, and integrity
  • Brakes and Castor Systems
  • Headboard and Footboard lamination for cracks and paint chips
  • Scales and accuracy if applicable
  • Backup Battery PSU if applicable


Treatment beds are covered under the TRH Services portfolio. We will assess your treatment table and beds upholstery, actuators, gas springs, and pedals for damage. TRH Services provides upholstery for your beds and tables, for ease of mind and patient comfort.

Conclusion: The TRH Services Advantage

It was my pleasure to introduce you to the world of hospital beds, how they affect patient care, and what to look for when beds require service. Remember, it’s important to find a service team with the experience, knowledge, and equipment to suit your maintenance needs as they will arise over time. Feel free to browse our website at www.trhservice.ca or email us at info@trhservices.ca regarding all your hospital and treatment bed service questions.


List of models we service:

Span AmericaMC9RWZ (Encore)
Span AmericaQD1000 (Advantage)
Span AmericaQD2000 (Rexx)


Written by: Sean Griffiths
Edited by: Tyler Hasenpflug CET


[1] (2018, April 2). The History of the Hospital Bed – CleanCare Linen. Retrieved from http://cleancarelinen.com/blog/history-of-the-hospital-bed/

[2] Ingraham, N. (2019, June 12). When the ‘smart home’ is a hospital room. Retrieved from https://www.engadget.com/2019/06/12/eir-healthcare-modular-hospital-room-alexa-integration/

[3] User, S. (n.d.). Advantages of Using a Hospital Bed. Retrieved from https://www.medichair.com/index.php/advantages-of-using-hospital-beds

[4] Span America. (2019). PDF. Greenville.

[5] Canada, H. (2015, December 16). Government of Canada. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/medical-devices/application-information/guidance-documents/guidance-document-adult-hospital-beds-patient-hazards-side-rail-other-hazards.html