The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently released an alert to nursing home providers across the country about the potential dangers posed by contaminated mattresses. Specifically, the alert referred to the risk of dangerous infections that can start when worn or damaged mattress covers allow blood and other bodily fluids to penetrate medical beds in nursing home facilities.
The FDA safety bulletin said that medical mattress covers are designed to protect the mattress itself from contaminated fluids. The problem is that due to overuse and simple old age, many of these covers can become worn. The wear and tear on mattress covers can cause leakage in places, allowing bodily fluids to penetrate to the inner layers of the mattress. This is possible even in covers that claim to be water-proof or which are coated in antibacterial substances designed to kill viruses and bacteria.
The FDA says that it believes damaged mattress covers are responsible for several potential infection outbreaks that have occurred across the country in nursing homes. Specifically, the FDA says that over the last two years it has received just under 500 reports associated with mattress covers that have failed to prevent bodily fluids from leaking into the mattress itself. Many of these reports have indicated that fluids from one patient penetrate a mattress and then later either leak out or come in contact with a new patient that has been placed on the same bed. This second patient is then at a high risk of developing infections which can spread throughout the rest of the facility.
The regulatory agency has said that problem is no small matter; instead, it believes that the issue of contaminated mattresses is widespread and seldom spotted by healthcare providers who are not trained to look out for such problems. To help combat the issue, the FDA has recommended that staff members at nursing facilities regularly check each mattress cover for visible signs of damage such as cracks, tears or pinholes which can allow fluids to leak inside the cover. Another vulnerable area in the covers is the zipper, which the FDA says can be the source of leaks. Staff members should also regularly remove the mattress cover and check inside for moisture. The mattresses should be checked for wet spots or stains, which can indicate that the cover is not functioning as it should. All damaged or soiled mattresses should be replaced immediately given the danger of an infection associated with such contaminated mattresses.
Illinois medical malpractice lawyer Ben Sansone is an experienced trial lawyer who routinely handles cases from simple car crashes to complex medical negligence cases. If you would like to discuss a potential case we are available for a free consultation to discuss your case. Call us at (314) 863-0500 or contact us online to arrange a free meeting.
Source: "FDA Warns That Damaged, Worn Covers for Medical Bed Mattresses Pose Risk," published at InfectionControlToday.com.
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