The History of Hospital Beds

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Hospital bed

There is no exact way to pinpoint when the hospital bed was invented. There are many versions of the stories since it all began hundreds of years ago. However, we can use literary evidence to present a sound timeline for the hospital beds. Let us paint a picture regarding the development and history of the hospital bed. They have undergone significant alterations and overcame challenges to become the technologically advanced version with remote features centered on patient care.

Timeline for hospital bed development

Imagine it’s the late 1700s; you have taken an ill family member to the nearby hospital. Assuming they were unconscious, your family member would be laid upon a very basic stretcher. It will have two poles sown on each side of equal length. There is no pillow or wheels. Simply the patient is carried upon a piece of cloth from one location to another.

Adjustable railings along the sides of the bed were not introduced until 1814 to 1825. It was first introduced in Britain, so the patients do not fall off. The mechanism was operating with a crank which helped to raise to lower the railing.

The first version of the modern hospital bed was introduced in 1874. It was patented by Andrew Wuest and Sons, who manufactured a hospital bed with a built-in mattress. Furthermore, the mattress could be elevated, so the advancement was widely welcomed.

The year is 1909! We were slowly recognizing the advancement in sciences when the next form of the hospital bed was introduced. It was created by Willis Gatch, a former chairperson at the Department of Surgery at Indiana University. The hospital bed could be segmented into 3 separate sections and adjusted accordingly. It was called the Gatch bed, where the head and feet would also be raised.

Do you wonder it meant to be a billionaire in 1946? Howard Hughes, unfortunately, got hurt in an airplane accident. When he was unhappy with the healthcare resources, the billionaire created his own mechanical bed, which used 30 engines to operate for its six separate sections.

A basic control panel and functioning hospital bed were introduced in 1949.

The first bed operated by an electric engine was introduced in 1952 by the Hill-Rom


The same company introduced a complete functioning automated hospital bed in 1956.

Dr. Homer Stryker introduced Circ-O’electric, a bed accommodating complex medical and surgical procedures.

Bed operating with a controller was introduced in 1961

Control panels on the sides of the hospital bed were not introduced until 1974.

Side rails that would go up and down using a remote control became a reality in 1978.

The 1980s decade was focused on developing the mattresses on the hospital beds. Mattresses included therapeutic mattresses, while some employed mechanics and detectors to assist patients. Furthermore, devices to call a nurse and an attached system to call the cardiovascular department became permanent with the bed.

Electrical beds for homecare were introduced the first time in 1983

The beds became more advanced with technologically-sound features. The intention was to introduce innovation without an overbearing size in the 1990s.

Safety standards were introduced to protect the patient and healthcare staff from electrocution and mechanical mishaps in 1993.

Design and innovation continue to grow. Extensive research is undertaken today to make hospital beds more intelligent, comfortable, and user-friendly. There are electrical beds and fully automated versions that have reduced the burden on healthcare staff.

Why is a hospital bed necessary?

Hospital beds are a necessity in inpatient health and homecare. Therefore, choosing suitable hospital beds can count for mobility and patient recovery. There are many forms of hospital beds to choose from, so choose wisely.

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Danielle Bains

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