At WiseGEEK, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
A hospital bed is a specialized bed which has been designed to meet the needs of the hospital environment. There are a number of features which distinguish a hospital bed from a regular bed, and these features also tend to make hospital beds more costly. On occasion, people need hospital beds for home use, typically because they are caring for invalids. Most commonly, these beds are leased by companies which maintain medical equipment for this purpose, although they can also be purchased.
The most distinctive feature of a hospital bed is that it is fully adjustable. Hospital beds typically can be adjusted in a wide range of ways to support a patient's back, make it easier to perform procedures, and for various other purposes. A basic hospital bed may be split into two sections which can be raised in various ways, and more sophisticated beds have additional sections for the purpose of making very precise adjustments to meet the specific needs of a patient.
Hospital beds also typically have rails, which are designed to prevent patients from rolling out. These rails can be raised and lowered to perform procedures or to make patients feel more comfortable. Lowering the rails also allows hospital staff to transfer patients from beds to gurneys, such as those used to transport patients to the operating room for procedures. Many hospital beds are also movable so that patients can be relocated with minimal disturbance.
Typically the head of a hospital bed has a control panel which allows hospital staff to make adjustments to the bed. Patients can also use the control panel to do things like call a nurse in the event of an emergency. The bed may also have poles for the purpose of hanging bags of intravenous fluids, and it may include drawers to store various tools needed for procedures. There is also a space at the foot of the bed for the patient's chart.
As you might imagine, most hospital beds require electricity to run the adjustment mechanisms and control panels, although some older beds can also be cranked by hand into various positions. Some hospital beds come with sophisticated computer systems which can be used to do things like save bed settings which are comfortable for the patient or necessary for procedures. Learning to use these systems can take time, and hospital staff usually discourage patients and friends from adjusting the bed themselves.