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Tips to prevent hospital bed fires  - Brief Article

Since 1993, the FDA has received 95 reports of fires that involved electrically powered hospital beds. The agency has prepared a list of safety tips for hospitals and other medical facilities to help prevent such fires.

The majority of the reports involved fires ignited by such causes as the overheating of the bed motor or capacitors, arcing at the plug and wall plate, and missing components in the wiring of the bed. The remaining reports identified smoke or flames that came from the bed, but no conclusion was reached as to the cause of the fire. Smoking in bed was the cause of the fire reported to the FDA.

The safety tips, released in December 2003, apply to both electrically powered and manual health care beds and to adjustable medical beds. One list of tips is for clinical staff and another list is for mechanical maintenance staff.

The FDA is seeking additional information on fires involving hospital beds. Some medical facilities are required to report problems with medical devices, including hospital beds, to the FDA. Health care providers employed by these facilities should use their established procedures for reporting hospital bed fires to the agency. All other health care providers may submit their reports to MedWatch, the FDA's voluntary reporting program.

The reports can be submitted by phone at (800) FDA-1088; by fax at (800) FDA-0178; by mail to MedWatch, FDA, HF-2, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857, or online at www.fda.gov/ medwatch/how.htm.

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