On April 19, 2013, the FDA issued a “safety communication” warning “that damaged or worn covers for medical bed mattresses can allow blood and body fluids to penetrate medical bed mattresses, posing a risk of infection to patients.” A medical bed mattress cover provides outer protection to a medical bed mattress by preventing blood and body fluids from entering the inside (inner core) of the mattress. Medical bed mattress covers, whether water-resistant, water-proof, or water-repellent, may lose their effectiveness over time.
From January 2011 to January 2013, the FDA received 458 reports associated with medical bed mattress covers failing to prevent blood and body fluids from leaking into the mattress (“fluid ingress”). Fluid ingress may occur if mattress covers become worn or damaged from small holes or rips in the fabric or from incorrect cleaning, disinfecting and laundering procedures. The zipper on the cover may also allow fluid to penetrate the mattress. Some reports indicate that if blood and body fluids from one patient penetrate a mattress, they can later leak out from the mattress when another patient is placed on the bed. Patients are at risk for infection if they come into contact with blood and body fluids from other patients.
Medical literature shows that damaged and wet (soiled) mattresses can be a source of contamination during infection outbreaks. The FDA is concerned that fluid ingress from worn or damaged medical bed mattress covers may be widespread and largely under-recognized by health care providers, health care facility staff, and caregivers.
The FDA issued the following recommendations:
- Regularly check each medical bed mattress cover for any visible signs of damage or wear such as cuts, tears, cracks, pinholes, snags or stains.
- Routinely remove the medical bed mattress cover and check its inside surface. Once the mattress cover is removed, inspect the mattress for wet spots, staining, or signs of damage or wear. Check all sides and the bottom of the mattress.
- Be aware that it may be difficult to identify damaged or soiled mattresses because mattress covers tend to be dark in color.
Remove and Replace
- Remove any damaged, worn or visibly stained medical bed mattress according to the healthcare facility’s procedures and manufacturer’s instructions.
- Immediately replace any medical bed mattress cover with visible signs of damage or wear to reduce the risk of infection to patients.
- Clean and disinfect undamaged medical bed mattress covers according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
- DO NOT stick needles into a medical bed mattress through the mattress cover.
Develop an Inspection Plan
- Check the expected life of the medical bed mattress and the mattress cover.
- Create an inspection plan for all medical bed mattresses in your facility.
- Contact the medical bed mattress cover manufacturer for any additional questions.
If you or a loved one suffered harms as a result of a hospital stay, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries if medical negligence was a cause of your injuries. You should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney who may be willing to investigate your situation and represent you in a medical malpractice case if substandard hospital care caused you to suffer injuries or other losses.
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