The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a list of safety tips to hospitals and other medical facilities to help prevent hospital bed fires. The tips are available at http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/safety/bedfires.html.
FDA has received 95 reports of fires involving electrically powered hospital beds since 1993.
Approximately 25 percent of the reports involved smoke or flames coming from the bed with no conclusion as to the cause of the fire. In the remaining 75 percent of reports, the fires were from a variety of causes such as: overheating of bed motor, overheating of bed capacitors, arcing at the plug and wall plate due to poor fit, blade plug damage or missing ground pin; fluid ingress which damaged the circuit boards; missing components in the wiring of the bed; beds over 14 years old overheating from lack of maintenance and not following manufacturing warnings and notices. FDA has one report of a hospital bed fire caused by smoking in bed.
The safety tips apply to both electrically powered and manual healthcare beds and to adjustable medical beds. They may be particularly useful for older model beds. One list is intended for the clinical staff and the other list for staff responsible for bed mechanical maintenance.
FDA is seeking additional information on fires involving hospital beds. Healthcare providers employed by facilities that are subject to FDA’s user facility reporting requirements should follow the reporting procedures established by their facilities for reporting incidents to FDA. All other healthcare providers may submit their reports to MedWatch, FDA’s voluntary reporting program.
The reports can be submitted by phone at 1-800-FDA-1088; by fax at 1-800-FDA-0178; by mail to MedWatch, FDA, HF-2, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857, or online at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/medwatch.