How to Prevent Bed Sores with Medical Beds


What is decubitus? How can it be prevented for loved ones and patients? These questions and other related topics are discussed in further detail in the following blog. Learn more about decubitus and preventive treatment, with an introduction by Paul Dvorak, editor of Medical Design and Outsourcing.


AMETEK DFS Blog Decubitis Bed Sores ImageA decubitus ulcer — or bedsore — is difficult enough to look at. Try searching for "bedsores" after lunch.) And it's even more difficult to treat, since decubitus ulcers heal slowly. Forming when a person lays still for too long, these ulcers limit blood and air flow to certain areas of the skin.  As skin breaks down, it opens to expose the flesh below, which then becomes easily infected. Just ask a nurse how challenging it is to care for someone with bed sores.

As you may expect, preventing sores is a far preferable treatment approach than monitoring patient healing. This makes the medical beds discussed in this article all the more impressive, because they help prevent the formation of these types of ulcers. The beds reduce the pressure on a patient's sensitive body areas, keeping them cool and dry. As you might also expect, there are both low and higher cost versions of beds with interesting options, and thus the reason of this blog.

Whether you're choosing a medical bed for many patients in a hospital or for one at home, there is much more to consider including: the patient and his or her needs, how "intelligent" the medical bed should be — and its reliability. All of these elements can help you choose the right solution to prevent decubitus for a patient or loved one.

Considering the Patient's Needs

Deciding what type of medical air bed to purchase can be a tough decision. Whether you work in a hospital or are purchasing a medical bed for home use, first consider the patient. How often will the patient be in bed? If a patient can move independently, a specialized air bed may not be needed. A simpler solution that inflates and deflates regularly may suffice. On the other hand, what if the patient can't move at all, perhaps due to unconsciousness or lack of awareness? In this case, you may need an "intelligent" specialized air bed that can automatically provide the movement needed to prevent the development of bed sores. Next, you'll want to consider the overall health of the patient. If the patient is generally healthy, there may be a low risk of developing pressure ulcers, therefore no need for an "intelligent" medical bed. Finally, think about the body type of the patient, since medical beds are rated for different patients and body builds. Even though a patient may be generally healthy, a unique body build may call for an air bed with more advanced features.

Is Your Medical Bed "Intelligent?"

Photo of medical bed in modern hospital After considering the needs of the patient, you can begin to review different medical air bed and mattress options. If a patient or a loved one has independent limb movement, a low air pressure mattress which inflates and deflates by the patient's weight may be all that is needed as a low-cost, medical needs solution. However, a more sophisticated medical air bed may be needed. 

Before I move forward, I'd like to clarify the use of the word "intelligent." An "intelligent" medical bed is, one that is programmed to support the type of performance needed by the patient. Some hospital beds make beds "intelligent" by using a brushless blower to provide the air airflow needed to prevent bed sores. The brushless blower provides the necessary airflow to inflate and deflate different zones of the bed, by increasing or decreasing the amount of air airflow through the bed.

To better understand the capability of brushless blowers, let's review an example of an "intelligent" medical bed. AMETEK was approached by a medical bed manufacturer to help enhance a bed that needed pressure and suction capabilities, specific performance levels at different voltages and quiet operation. The engineering team worked for two days to meet the necessary performance levels and program the blower to meet the desired requirements. After some research, they were able to create a dual function blower that allows the customer to inflate and deflate different zones of the hospital bed at the same time using an external controller. An unusual task for most blowers, AMETEK's dual function blower features air entering into the inlet tube and exiting through the slotted cover. At the same time, there is air coming into the slotted cover, moving through the other side of the blower and then out of the outlet tube. The working air and the cooling air are circulating in different sections of the blower, allowing it to stay cool, performing exactly as needed.

Along with a dual function blower, AMETEK engineers programmed the blower software to use a lookup table, allowing them to be precise with their speed profile and command voltages. And though a lookup up table was needed in the case, AMETEK blowers can also be programmed using an exponential curve, a linear curve, step­ by-step performance changes — or any performance that is below the performance curve.

How Reliable is the Medical Bed?

Finally, consider the reliability of the hospital bed. Will the bed fail? What happens if it does? You don't want the patient to be at risk for bed sores due to poor reliability from the medical bed being used. Some beds are meant to last a long time, while others do not. Patients not expected to be bedridden for long may need only a short-term bed solution, however most will need a reliable long-term solution. 

Medical beds equipped with brushless blowers, especially AMETEK blowers, are meant to last. A brushless blower has a much longer life — 20 times longer — than a compressor inflated medical bed. Unlike a compressor blower, a brushless blower has no contacting brushes, so the brushless blower stays clean, remaining virtually maintenance free.

Overall, AMETEK blowers have a wide variety of capabilities and uses throughout the medical industry. In this specific case, we decrease the risk of patients developing bed sores through advanced programming technology and innovative thinking. Caregivers using medical beds with an AMETEK brushless blower for patients or loved ones rest more easily knowing that bedsores should not be an issue.

At AMETEK Dynamic Fluid Solutions, we understand you’re looking for more than just an off-the-shelf part or one-time solution. You need a true technology partner who understands your engineering challenge that is focused on you, providing customized, collaborative solutions. We’ll also provide you with excellent customer service for a great total experience.

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