Healthcare mattresses are one of the most common causes of infection while staying at a hospital. Studies published within Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology conducted that within 4 different hospitals; 72% of the mattresses tested were damaged, 47% required a new cover replacement, and 25% required a new mattress replacement (1). This level of inadequacy can lead to patients contracting various kinds of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) from prior residents due to contaminants, such as bodily fluid, seeping into the mattress and seeping back out when another patient ends up with that same mattress. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1 out of 31 patients conduct an HAI daily due to the quality of hospital care (2).
The main cause of these issues is the damage that the mattresses sustain over time. The American Hospital Association claims that the life of a mattress is around 5 years, but mattress manufacturers state that the expected life of a mattress is only 1 to 3 years (1). The time frame is lower than normal mattresses due to the extended use of hospital mattresses, with some patients being bedridden for weeks or even months at a time. These extended stays lead to small tears in the mattress covers, allowing pathogens to burrow into the mattress, making them almost impossible to completely disinfect when preparing the mattress for another patient.
Why Infection Control is Important
Proper infection control is required of any healthcare facility for its capital equipment and supplies, especially their support surfaces. Medical mattresses have one of the highest touch-rates for a surface within a hospital; making sure that they are well maintained is crucial for healthcare facilities to ensure the safety of their patients. If a medical facility fails to uphold quality cleaning standards, they could be held responsible for any infection that the patient may have contracted if directly related to the hospital’s negligent practice (3).
Outside of the legal implications of not maintaining quality mattress standards, the cost of replacing mattresses due to poor condition or potential infection risk is no small amount. If a hospital is not taking the correct precautions to disinfect and maintain a mattress, the mattress will not last nearly as long, requiring the hospital to replace mattresses at a higher rate to avoid putting their patients at risk.
How to Maintain a Medical Mattress & Prevent Contamination
Maintaining a medical mattress is one of the most important ways to avoid infection spread within a healthcare facility. It is estimated that 68% of all mattress damage is done physically through repeated use, and 32% is caused chemically due to the use of incorrect cleansing practices (2). The first step in maintaining a medical mattress is to inspect in between every patient use. The inspection should look for:
- Visible tears, cuts, or rips in the cover
- Exterior staining
- Removal of cover to inspect interior foam for any noticeable seepage
If a mattress shows any of these signs, you need to act fast. If only the cover is compromised and there are no signs of damage or seepage to the interior foam, you should replace the cover entirely to prevent the mattress core from getting damaged. If the mattress core is compromised or damaged, it is best to avoid any potential risk to the next patient and replace the mattress in its entirety.
MedMattress offers the Care Med-Surg Mattresses which provides clinicians with high-quality hospital beds mattresses featuring infection control properties. Our mattress line contains many different variations of CertiPUR-US® certified foam to accommodate low-risk to high-risk patients, as well as a Bari Care line, to ensure you are getting the right mattress for the right patient. Each mattress comes with a healthcare-grade, nylon cover, which protects against fluids, stains, bacteria, and fungi all while maintaining a comfortable, soft-to-the-touch feel experience. Each Care Mattress cover has a 360° zipper for easy access to inspect the interior foam, while a fluid protection flap along the sides of the zipper ensures that nothing seeps in and damages the mattress interior.
Ensuring the safety of your patients should be a healthcare facility’s first priority, and it starts with infection control of their mattresses. MedMattress’ Care Med-Surg Mattresses are designed to meet the needs and risk levels associated with any patient. If you need help selecting a med-surg mattress, please feel free to contact us by phone at (877) 593-6011 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Custom and additional sizes are available upon request or view our extended product line at MedMattress.com.
- Martonicz, Tori Whitacre. “Hospital Mattress Failure Is a Potential Threat to Patient Safety.” Infection Control Today, 31 Mar. 2022, www.infectioncontroltoday.com/view/hospital-mattress-failure-potential-threat-patient-safety.
- Lam, Iwain, et al. “Infection Risks Associated with Damaged Mattresses and Management Strategy Using Repair Patches.” InfectionControl.Tips, 4 May 2021, www.infectioncontrol.tips/2021/05/04/infection-risks-associated-with-damaged-mattresses-and-management-strategy-using-repair-patches/
- Goldberg Finnegan. “Can a Hospital Be Held Liable for a Patient’s Infection?” Goldberg Finnegan, 24 Aug. 2022, www.goldbergfinnegan.com/liability-for-hospital-acquired-infection/#:~:text=A%20hospital%20may%20be%20held,unqualified%20or%20undertrained%20staff%20members