What is a Hospital Bed?
A hospital bed is an adjustable bed that gives users enhanced positioning controls to improve comfort, as well as improved sleep, circulation, safety, and to support caregiver assistance. They are valuable home care tools that have greatly evolved over the years, and with technology, have become smaller and easier to assemble, transport, and control. Sometimes referred to as an “electric bed,” they are capable of various adjustments to rise, lower, elevate, and recline.
Who Are They For?
Hospital beds are best suited for anyone with mobility issues, and can address various illness and disabilities, such as:
- Those who cannot change positions in a normal bed due to medical conditions like breathing issues, congestive heart failure, or cardiovascular illnesses.
- Hospital beds with rails can provide an extra layer of safety for patients who are at risk of rolling out of their beds while sleeping, or who may need support for getting in and out of bed.
- At-home hospital beds are also beneficial for caregivers to be able to more easily assist and care for patients by adjusting their position, relieving strain by raising the bed to a height that enables appropriate care.
- Patients that need incontinence or bathing care.
- Patients with injuries to the lower extremities, spinal cord injuries, or limb amputees.
- Preventing bedsores by removing pressure on affected areas and allowing the patient to turn and reposition themselves regularly.
What Are the Benefits?
People with disabilities or injuries may need a hospital bed in order to realize their maximum comfort as they navigate their circumstances, in fact, some tasks like sitting up or being bathed may be impossible without one for some individuals. Having a hospital bed at home can help many people avoid or postpone assisted living or nursing home placement These beds can be bought or rented for shorter term care. Pub Med’s study found that investing in an at-home hospital bed can help patients save 19% on overall health care.
Additionally, having an at-home hospital bed can improve quality of life as it allows the patient to adjust their positioning to help them get in and out of bed, adjust to a more comfortable position while they’re resting, and help relieve pain or discomfort for better quality of sleep.
Types of Hospital Beds
There are various types of hospital beds that are best suited for different types of conditions, and each has their specific advantages. Here is an overview:
- Full-Electric: A completely electronic bed that comes with a remote and control buttons on the side. Fully adjustable with both the remote and buttons, and designed to be easy to use.
- Semi-Electric: In addition to having some electronic controls, these will have a hand crank to help adjust the height of the bed. This manual adjustment can require serious effort, usually by the caregiver. These will generally cost less than a fully electronic bed.
- Low: These are ideal for patients who are at high-risk of falling, are of short stature, or have mobility issues. Low hospital beds are adjustable as well, but overall height is much lower than other types of hospital beds, generally hovering around a foot above ground. These are almost always fully electric and are generally not recommended for tall patients who may have issues getting in and out due to long limbs and joint pain.
- Bariatric: Bariatric hospital beds are specially designed to support heavyweight patients. They are fully electric and have a wider mattress area. Because they are larger and sturdier, they tend to be among the most expensive.
- Trendelenburg: Has the highest number of adjustment options. On top of being able to adjust the height, different parts like the feet and head can be moved individually. As this bed requires more space as well, it is the most expensive support surface.
- Powered and Air-Fluidized: These beds are semi-electric or completely electric hospital support surfaces with a fully integrated powered mattress that has a total height of 3 inches or greater and a surface designed to reduce friction and shear.
Hospital Bed Cost, Insurance, and Payment Plans
According to Consumer Affairs, hospital bed costs start at around $500 and can often reach tens-of-thousands of dollars. Renting can cost anywhere between $200 and $500 per month depending on the bed type. Other costs that need to be considered include:
- Mattress: Sometimes referred to as a “support surface,” patients will require different types of mattresses depending on their condition, from foam, air-filled, water-filled, tempur-pedic, or memory foam. Make sure to “try before you buy,” and check with your doctor to see what they recommend. Examples include:
- Envella Air Fluidized Therapy Bed: Created by Hillrom, the Envella Air Fluidized Therapy Bed is designed to heal complex wounds by pushing air through millions of tiny beads within the mattress, creating a fluid-like environment to minimize pressure and control the skin’s temperature.
- Volkner Turning System: This mattress and mattress overlay help with pressure sore healing as it turns the person in the bed every 10 minutes. It also helps keep blood flowing through the entire body, while air chambers relieve pressure from the high-risk spinal area.
- Tradewine Series Mattress System: Each of these systems come with three dual mode pumps, which alternate pressures to redistribute air. These come with a remote so that the patient can control their bed independently.
- Invacare microAIR Alternating Pressure Low Air Loss Mattress System: This system inflates and deflates cells in the bed in a 3:1 cycle to relieve pressure. It can hold up to 600 lbs and can be fully inflated within seconds.
- Freedom bed: Originally designed for people with spinal cord injuries, this computer-controlled, self-rotating bed rotates the patient from one side to another to restore blood flow in all limbs.
- Sheets: Otherwise known as “overlays,” some patients may require “slide sheets,” which reduce friction when moving or turning in the bed.
- Hospital Table Bed: Tables that can be swung over the bed to provide a surface for eating or drinking are also helpful. These are widely available in retail stores and online.
For those who are interested in seeking financial assistance or acquire their bed through insurance, there may be some support through health insurance if their provider considers hospital beds as medical supply. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) determine hospital beds as durable medical equipment (DME), and will reimburse the cost of rentals or purchases under these requirements:
Medicare: Those insured by Medicare Part B may be eligible to file a claim for up to 80% of one, but must have a doctor’s prescription for the bed, which includes your condition and why a hospital bed will help you; you’re under the care of a doctor for your condition and are being seen at least once every 6 months; your doctor participates in Medicare; the equipment provider participates in Medicare.
Medicaid: Aside from Medicare, Medicaid plans can also help pay for both hospital bed purchases and rentals depending on your state’s DME coverage policies.
Veterans: For Veterans, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also pays for home hospital beds when a doctor deems it medically necessary.
If you have additional questions relating to hospital bed care, talk to one of our case managers or life care planners today to see what options may be available for you.