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Area for improvement: Psychiatric patient beds

May 10, 2013
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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James M. Hunt, AIA, NCARB, President of Behavioral Health Facility Consulting, LLC (Topeka, Kan.), believes that psychiatric patient beds, particularly the electrically adjustable, have plenty of room for improvement before they’ll be completely suitable for use around psychiatric patients. The adjustable beds that are marketed today for psychiatric applications are considerably better than standard electrically adjustable beds, Hunt says, because they:

  • Have ways to lock the controls so patients can’t adjust the bed
  • Have features that will reverse if the bed is declining and meets significant resistance. This features is vital to prevent patient self-harm ranging from skull fractures to broken bones, which were a significant issue in the past.

What the field needs is a bed that’s fully enclosed underneath, he says, not unlike the specialized lavatory products for psychiatric units, which prevent access, damage, or ligature attachment. Beds with open access to mechanical parts may enable patients to get underneath, disassemble parts, and cause damage or self-injury. “It’s been done numerous times. We need to find a better way to enclose the operating mechanisms,” he explains.

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