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Who Invented Hosptial Beds




Who Invented Hosptial Beds

Hospital beds are common place in hospitals, clinics, doctor’s surgeries and nursing homes across the UK. They come in many different sizes and with features designed to suit different needs, one thing that each and every hospital bed does have in common is the ability to provide comfort and care for the patient and convenience for care workers so that treatment can be provided quickly and easily. 

A widely asked question surrounding this device that many people take for granted is “who invented hospital beds?” The answer to the question is not as straight forward as many people might imagine and full credit cannot be given to one person in the way that Alexander Graham Bell is credited with the invention of the telephone.

History of hospital beds



The answer to “who invented hospital beds?” could date to Ancient Rome and Pharaohnic Egypt when beds made from two equal sized poles with a sling or sheet draped across were used to carry patients for treatment. The device worked by two people (one at each end) carrying a pole in each hand parallel, with the patient able to lie on the sheet. The invention is commonly known as a stretcher is today’s society.

Hospital beds that were used side by side in hospitals to treat patients with differing illnesses were first thought to have been introduced in by Muslims in 700 CE.

Hospital beds with adjustable side rails which are frequent with modern beds were first introduced in England between 1815 and 1825. Side rails on the beds were able to be adjusted up and down to a required height through the use of a mechanical crank.

Modern hospital beds



The modern hospital bed comes in three segments, with the ability to adjust the head and feet as and when required for both treatment and comfort, the invention of this bed is credited to Dr. Willis Dew Gatch and is the closest answer to “who invented hospital beds?”

Dr. Willis Dew Gatch lived from 1878-1954 and was an American surgeon. Dr. Gatch was chair of the Department of Surgery at the Indiana University School of Medicine and conducted research into experimental and clinical surgery, shock occurring during and/or after surgery, diseases of the biliary passages and burns. Dr. Gatch first introduced the bed in 1907.

The bed was made up of three mechanical and moveable sections that included spring parts which were used to manually adjust each section of the bed. This kind of hospital bed is sometimes referred to as the “Gatch Bed” and since its introduction has become common place in hospitals.

The operation of the “Gatch Bed” has advanced over the years and is now controlled electronically as opposed to manually. Each section of the bed can be adjusted using an electronic control panel; this was first introduced in 1945.

The hospital bed has a long history and has provided benefits to millions of people in some shape of form for centuries. To give an answer to the question “who invented hospital beds?” one would have to look to Dr. Willis Dew Gatch as his invention was the basis of the beds we see today.


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