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In a special "Dear Colleague" letter aimed at risk managers and other hospital leaders, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns that some electrically powered hospital beds may pose a risk of fire. The letter notes that the FDA has received 95 reports of fires involving electrically powered hospital beds since 1993.
To help prevent incidents of this kind, the FDA offers safety tips that apply to both electrically powered and manual health care beds and adjustable medical beds. The advice may be particularly useful for older-model beds, notes David W. Feigal Jr., MD, MPH, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. In the warning letter, he explains that the Safe Medical Devices Act of 1990 requires hospitals and other user facilities to report deaths and serious injuries associated with the use of medical devices.
Feigal reports that the FDA’s safety tips assume that normal behavioral policies such as prohibitions against smoking and lighting candles are already in place. The fire risks posed by oxygen administration to a patient in bed are not addressed in this list of safety tips.
Proper power supply is key
To address the fire concerns specific to electrically operated beds, the FDA offers this advice:
Inspect bed for dust, lint buildup
Report any problems to maintenance
Additional, more detailed advice for maintenance staff is available on-line at www.fda.gov/cdrh/safety/bedfires.html.