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History Of Hospital Beds

History Of Hospital Beds

The hospital bed is a common sight in modern day society, There are millions across the world with hospitals, clinics, surgeries, nursing homes and a number of domestic homes all places that rely heavily on the use of a specialist bed to help provide comfort and aid in the care of patients.

Hospital beds are specially designed beds for patients and have features that provide comfort and well-being to the user as well as offering convenience to the care workers. Modern beds come with a range of added features such as adjustable height and side rails as well as electronic controls that can be used to operate both the bed and surrounding electronic devices. There is a long history of hospital beds and while they have not always been as technologically advanced as they are today, they proved just as beneficial.

How long have hospital beds been in use?

The first type of modern hospital bed with adjustable side rails was first introduced in England between 1815 and 1825. These beds relied on the use of a manual crank to move the rails up and down to the required position; however the history of hospital beds is known to date back to the middle ages.

The term “hospital bed” can be applied to any sort of bed that is used in the care and comfort of patients and the history of the device in some shape and form has been in use for centuries. The first hospital beds where more akin to a modern day stretcher and known as “litters”. These were basically two poles with a sheet spread across which allowed a patient to be carried by two other people, standing either end with a pole in each hand. The use of these litters is known to have dated back to Ancient Egypt and Rome.

Modern adjustable hospital beds

The history of hospital beds as a modern, functional, three segment adjustable bed brings us up to the early 20th century and Dr. Willis Dew Gatch. Dr. Gatch was chair of the Department of Surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine in the early 1900’s and came up with the idea for a hospital bed which provides elevation for the head and feet with mechanically divided sections. This type of bed is also sometimes referred to as the “Gatch Bed” and was the original model for what is common in modern hospitals. Because of its benefits and convenience the bed became common place and Dr. Willis Dew Gatch is widely referred to as the inventor of the hospital bed.

The history of hospital beds was taken further is 1945 with the introduction of the modern `push-button` bed. The electronic control panel replaced the manual technique and allowed both patients and care workers to electronically adjust the bed to a suitable position. These beds were originally built inclusive of a toilet in the hope of replacing the bed pan, this addition proved unsuccessful but the electronic controls became common place among hospital beds.

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