Shopping for a hospital bed isn’t like getting a traditional bed or mattress for your home. You may have already noticed that, unlike with normal beds, you don’t get a range of size options for a hospital bed. This leads many seniors to ask, “What size is a hospital bed?”
This brief article has the answers you need, and some helpful tips to guide you on your hospital bed-purchasing journey!
Types of Hospital Beds
Standard Hospital Beds
These are the most common and least expensive kinds of hospital beds. They are very simply designed, but they work very well and are extremely durable. They use a motor to adjust the height of the bed, as well as to elevate the head, legs, or move the user into a sitting position. Using the bed in a very low position is safest for many seniors, but a higher positiontakes the strain off of the legs and hips for others.
Bariatric Hospital Beds
Designed for bariatric patients, these beds are wider and stronger than standard hospital beds, but function much the same. Standard hospital beds typically have a maximum weight capacity between 300 and 450 pounds; bariatric beds can hold 600-750. This makes them great for heavier users who may not be able to safely use a standard hospital bed. They’re also wider, which gives users more space to lay and makes them more comfortable overall.
ICU-Style Hospital Beds
These beds are designed to accommodate more serious medical needs; they have more stable rails, are easier to transport, and give caregivers better access to administer care. They are great for seniors and other people who need more frequent medical care, not just a hospital bed for comfort/stability.
Types of Hospital Bed Mattresses
Memory Foam Mattresses
Memory foam for hospital bed mattresses is the most common. They’re very soft and help displace the user’s body weight evenly across the surface of the mattress. They also bend easily, so they won’t bunch up when the bed is elevated.
These mattresses are filled with small air chambers that can inflate and deflate using a control pump. The air chambers can provide a sort of air massage- some chambers filling up all the way while others aren’t quite as full- that reduces the risk of pressure sores and muscular atrophy.
Hospital Bed Dimensions
How Much Does a Hospital Bed Weigh?
Hospital beds are not light; the lightest models, ones like the Drive Ultra-Lite Hospital Bed, weigh 182 pounds before the mattress is even factored in. Average-weight beds, like the Invacare 5180, weigh between 220 and 320 pounds.
Heavier beds, like ICU-style and bariatric hospital beds, can weigh up to 500 pounds. Although they’re very heavy, they can still be easily pushed thanks to their wheels. The wheels on hospital beds are designed to roll smoothly and without too much effort, counteracting the heaviness of the bed.
How Long is a Hospital Bed?
Hospital beds are typically between 80 and 84 inches long. The sleeping surface of a hospital bed is 80 inches. The reason that the bed frame can be up to 84 inches is due to the thickness of the headboard and footboard.
How Wide is a Hospital Bed?
36 inches is the standard width of a hospital bed, but you can find some that are slightly more narrow and many that are wider. Bariatric hospital beds range between 36 and 48 inches wide; they’re built to accommodate wider users.
The reason that most hospital beds are so narrow is that they need to be able to fit through doorways. If a hospital bed can’t fit through a normal-sized door, the wheels won’t be of any valuable use.
What Size is a Hospital Bed Mattress?
Hospital bed mattresses are the same size as the more familiar Twin XL mattress; any Twin XL mattress will fit on top of almost any hospital bed. The dimensions of these mattresses are 36 inches wide by 80 inches long. This makes them just long enough to be comfortable for people of most heights and wide enough for one person to sleep comfortably.
Top Hospital Bed Manufacturers/Brands
The hospital beds that come from Invacare are among the nicest and most durable on the market. Invacare is most well-known for their high-quality wheelchairs, but they provide all sorts of different medical products for seniors, including hospital beds. Getting a hospital bed from Invacare is a recipe for comfort, longevity, and safety- but be prepared to pay a little extra for the brand name
Another large name in the medical products industry, Drive Medical’s focus is on affordability and medical benefit. Because of this, their products are very popular with seniors looking to get a high-quality item at a reasonable price. They have a good selection of hospital beds; none of them any special features worth writing home about, but they get the job done without breaking the bank.
This is a large global brand with manufacturing in Germany and across Asia; they make ICU-style beds that are used in hospitals, assisted living facilities, and private home care. They also make standard and bariatric beds; HopeFULL’s beds are valued for their safety, stability, and ease of transport.
Medline has been in business for over a century, and they’ve grown into one of America’s top providers of medical equipment. Their selection of hospital beds is smaller than other companies, but the options you do have are high-quality and affordable. That’s the best part about Medline hospital beds- they tend to be very affordable, and can save you hundreds compared to a different bed with the same features!
Tips for Buying the Best Hospital Bed for Your Needs
Type of Bed
Before buying a hospital bed for your home or a loved one, consider which type of hospital bed will suit your needs. However, there’s no cause for concern about choosing the wrong one, because their features overlap considerably. Getting the right type of hospital bed, though, will help either save you money or save you some headaches.
If you know that you don’t need the added weight capacity and room of a bariatric bed or the additional safety of an ICU-style bed, it’s best to stick with a standard hospital bed. It will have all the features you need and cost several hundred dollars less than any other type of bed.
This is a minor aspect of hospital beds that should be paid attention to. Full electric hospital beds have motors that elevate the head and the leg portions of the sleeping surface, as well as raise and lower the entire bed.
Semi-electric hospital beds have motors that elevate the head and leg sections but use a hand crank to raise and lower the bed. These beds can be less expensive but are also much less convenient. Before buying a hospital bed for your home, make sure it has the type of electric functionality you need!
This is an important safety feature that does not come standard on every hospital bed. In the event of a power failure, the battery backup will ensure that you aren’t stuck with a bed that’s in a seated position when you need it flat for sleeping. Battery backup is important for people who don’t have a caregiver around at all hours who could assist them with the manual crank in these scenarios.
If you think that you’ll feel more comfortable with your hospital bed if it has a battery backup, make sure it has it before you buy! Keep in mind, though, that hospital beds with battery backup tend to cost more than those that do not.
Type of Mattress
Memory foam mattresses are great; they’re soft, inexpensive, and have a luxurious feel to them. They aren’t perfect, though- they do almost nothing to reduce the risk of pressure sores forming. Pressure sores are serious- over 2.5 million pressure sores require treatment by doctors every year. If you or someone in your care is going to be confined to a bed for a long time period, you may want to consider getting them an air mattress.
Air mattresses are great for reducing the risk of pressure sores and muscular atrophy; they can help change the way body weight is spread out and stimulate muscle tissue. If buying a full air mattress for a hospital bed isn’t an option in your budget, you can also get an air mattress topper or overlay. Air mattress toppers cut down on cost while still giving you the same benefits as hospital bed air mattresses.
While you may be tempted to get a hospital bed that’s wider than 36 inches, you should remember that it won’t be able to roll through a doorway with the user in it. That decreases the convenience and fall-prevention that hospital beds give people who use them in their homes. So, unless you truly need a wide bed as a bariatric patient or have physical limitations that make it necessary, you should stick with the standard 36-inch width!
The standard size of a hospital bed is 80 inches long by 36 inches wide. They range in height between 8 and 36 inches, and all have adjustable height options. We hope you got the answers you were looking for, and feel more confident and ready to buy a hospital bed online!
2 thoughts on “What Size is a Hospital Bed: Hospital Bed Dimensions & Tips for Choosing the Right Bed”
Excellent article, straightforward and right to the point on the most important issues with which most people are concerned.
I thought I would add a bit of clarification to the question of why hospital beds are so narrow. Having spent most of my working life in patient care, from Practical Nursing School, to Surgical Technology School and 15+ years of practice, I believe that I may be able to bring a slightly different perspective to the situation. One of the other reasons that hospital beds are so narrow is that the patient care staff, from Patient Care Technicians/Nursing Assistants, to Nurses, Doctors, Respiratory Care Practitioners, Radiology Technicians, the myriad staff types who need to perform specialty care procedures, such as inserting PICC lines, etc., and so forth, need to have convenient access to the patient as they lay in this bed! Whether or not the bed can be pushed through doorways – which admittedly is very important – the patients themselves must be accessible to the staff members needing to provide the needed patient care. This primarily applies of course to patients in a hospital or skilled nursing care facility, however, home-bound patients are likewise in need of easy accessibility by anyone attempting to provide care to the patient. And especially to hands-on personnel attempting to give the patient any kind of direct care, even in a serious emergency. Attempting CPR on a patient who is in a bed too wide in which to reach them can make the whole process much more difficult than it can be!
Or, imagine trying to give a patient a bed bath if the bed is so wide they can barely be reached?
Another issue is one of simple standards. Beds and the mattresses that hold them need to have bed linens that are easily adaptable to those available to the common retail or commercial market, such as the Twin XL size which also is commonly used on College Dorm bed mattresses. This not only increases the type and style of linens which are on the retail market, it also decreases the general cost to the consumer, as the increased availability decreases the necessity of needing to shop for specialty bed linens, which are almost always a good bit more expensive, and in fewer styles, types, and colors than on the retail market. It also increases the availability of bed linen “accessories”, such as mattress pads, pillows, incontinence pads, blankets, quilts, and bed spreads, matching window treatments, etc. All of which can increase the patient’s morale considerably, if their room doesn’t look any more like an institutional facility than absolutely necessary!
Thanks for your very helpful comment, Shari!