New super hospital bed arrives

A new type of hospital bed space has been established by designers and surgeons working together, and it is hoped this new bed space will reduce some common medical problems. A principal investigator into UK hospitals has recently stated, “Around 10 percent of patients who come to hospital in the UK will suffer a form of unintended injury or harm.”

The project has been in the works for three years and has involved designers, engineers, psychologists and businessmen as well as clinicians. Advice has been taken from all areas in the development of the bed space and it is hoped it will provide a dramatic improvement on previous conditions.

Hundreds of hours were spent by those involved with the project observing everyday processes that take place in hospitals. Three hospitals were monitored for research and development and this showed that there were five separate areas which patients and staff identified as being the most likely for mistakes to be made in.

These five areas were; the giving out of medication, the handover of information between different staff members, the spread of infectious disease, proper hand washing procedures and the monitoring of the patient’s vital signs.

The team involved with the project started creating interventionist measures that would reduce the risk of these various problems happening, they then proceeded to test them in the clinical environment. A unit was developed called the CareCentre, which is placed at the end of the patient’s bed and it is been designed to reduce the amount of time a nurse has to spend gathering equipment from elsewhere.

Generally, drugs are kept in a separate unit but now they are going to be stored in this separate locker by the patient’s bed. There is also a flat surface where observations can be charted by nurses and there is a special area for glove storage which should help prevent the spread of infection.

A research fellow involved in the project is Oliver Anderson who commented, “When I am performing a procedure and the apron or gloves get dirty I would have to dispose of them and this process has been made much simpler by the CareCentre which allows me to dispose of these items without having to touch the bin.”

There is also a new trolley that can be used to measure vital signs and this stands next to the bed of the patient. Various pieces of equipment on the trolley have been redesigned to be more hygienic. For example, the blood pressure machine, which typically uses Velcro, has been replaced with magnets so there is less chance of bugs developing in the fabric.

Paper charts have also been replaced by touchscreen computers which can record all vital signs of the patient. With just a touch of a few buttons, medical staff are able to recall information about various patients on the ward. There are also software systems in place which will alert nursing staff to any patients when they become suddenly unwell.

Many of the new designs that have been developed are currently being tested at Imperial College, while others have already gone through to the production stage. Professor Charles Vincent, who was involved with the study commented, “The business of safety is very complex and requires a lot of thinking about how people behave, this system is designed to understand this.”