What is the Weight Capacity of a Hospital Bed?

The weight capacity of a hospital bed isn’t quite as straightforward as it may first seem.  Below are some common terms with explanations which you’re likely to encounter, and which need to be understood to fully answer the question.

What is a Safe Working Load?

The safe working load is defined as the maximum permissible load comprised of patient, mattress, bed linen and accessories that can be safely lifted by the bed.  This means that a bed with a safe working load of 350kg (for example) can fully function through all its positions and profiles with that weight in place, and therefore provide positive clinical benefits for the patient.

What is IEC 60601-2-52?

IEC stands for International Electrotechnical Committee. It is a not-for-profit international group of recognised experts who set safety standards for medical electrical equipment.

The IEC 60601-2-52 safety standard focuses on adult medical beds and provides guidelines covering a whole range of electrical and mechanical issues, including safe working load.  For a medical bed to be compliant with the standard, it must be able to fully function with that load in place as described above.

What is Maximum Patient Weight?

Medical beds, in addition to having a safe working load, have a maximum patient weight.  This is less than the safe working load because the bed, in addition to carrying the patient, will also carry a mattress, bedding and accessories.

For example, the Medstrom SOLO bed has a safe working load of 258kg and a maximum patient weight of 193kg.  The difference of 65kg is the weight allowance for the mattress, bedding and accessories.

Safety Against Tipping

To be IEC 60601-2-52 compliant, 220kg (or the maximum patient weight if the manufacturer claims it is higher than 220kg) must be placed evenly in each corner of the bed without imbalance.

If the maximum patient weight according to the manufacturer exceeds 220kg, the maximum patient weight is to be used and is evenly distributed over an area 95cm long and 25cm wide. This test mimics having two people sitting on the side edge of the bed.

Weight Capacity – Other Considerations

Sometimes the safe working load and maximum patient weight are not the only considerations when deciding on the most suitable bed for a patient, particularly with plus-size patients.  For example, a person may weigh less than the maximum patient weight of a bed, but their body shape may be such that the width of a standard hospital bed is not sufficient.

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