News Column

Patent Issued for Adjustable Width Bariatric Transport Support Surface

March 5, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- A patent by the inventors Biggie, John J. (Coral Springs, FL); Biggie, Lydia (Coral Springs, FL); Gillis, John (Coral Springs, FL), filed on November 17, 2005, was published online on February 18, 2014, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 8650686 is assigned to Anodyne Medical Device, Inc. (Los Angeles, CA).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to bariatric support surfaces. In, particular, it relates to a variable width bariatric support surface that can dynamically change its width when used in conjunction with a variable width transport bed frame.

"While most hospital beds are designed to support a standard range of patient sizes, there is an increasing need for both bed frames and support surfaces for the very large ('bariatric') patients who are between 350 and 1000 pounds. Bariatric patients are physically too large to fit on a standard hospital bed, which is usually 36'' in width.

"The industry has developed many bariatric bed frames and support surfaces in various widths. For larger bariatric patients, beds up to 60'' in width may be required to support them. Constructing a conventional mattress of this size is not problem, and those mattresses are suitable in a situation where the patient is ambulatory, or does not have to be moved from one room to another while remaining in the bed. However, when a bariatric patient is in a hospital or long term health care facility, it is often necessary to move the bariatric patient from their room to other parts of the facility (such as for X-rays, therapy, etc.) while they remain in their bed. It would be desirable to have a method of moving bariatric patients from one room to another while they remain in their beds.

"One attempt to address this problem uses a dual bed frame system that shares a single mattress with longitudinal side extensions. The first bed frame in this system is a bariatric bed that is sized for use by bariatric patients. The second bed frame in this system is a standard size bed that can be rolled through a doorway to move a patient from room to room. These bed frames share a single mattress which is approximately the size of a standard hospital mattress. When the patient is resting on the bariatric bed frame, one or more side extensions are attached to the sides of the mattress. The side extensions extend longitudinally along the side of the mattress from the head of the bed to the foot of the bed, and effectively increase the width of the mattress to provide a resting surface for the patient that extends to the full width of the bariatric bed frame.

"The longitudinal extensions (or 'bolsters,') can be detachable foam extensions, air filled cushions, coil spring supports, etc. During normal use, the patient rests on the bariatric bed using both the mattress and the longitudinal side extensions. These designs have a disadvantage in that there is always some gap or bumps between the longitudinal 'bolster' and the lateral air cells used in alternating pressure systems. Also, some other systems have valves outside of the pump (i.e., the air source for the mattress) which must be manually switched over for inflating and deflating the bolster. Of course, this switching system requires additional parts and expense.

"When the patient has to be moved from the patient's room, the second bed is brought into the patient's room. The longitudinal side extensions are either removed or deflated to reduce the width of the patient's mattress to the standard size. At this point, the patient's mattress is moved from the bariatric bed frame to the standard size bed frame. This type of system will typically have lateral lift supports that underlie the mattress and extend outward from the undersides of the mattress. The hospital or health care personnel will lift the mattress up from the bariatric bed and move the mattress to the standard size bed using the lateral lift supports. At this point, the patient is now ready to be moved out of the room.

"While allowing movement of a bariatric patient out of a room, this approach has several significant drawbacks. First, it requires a substantial investment in equipment. It uses two complete frames rather than one. This substantially increases the cost of providing care to a bariatric patient. In addition, this type of system requires a large number of components to build and control the longitudinal side extensions. It also requires the additional cost of the lateral lift supports. It would be desirable to reduce costs by eliminating the need for a second bed frame, by eliminating the need for the lateral lift supports, and by eliminating the components required for the side extensions. Second, it requires a substantial amount of work for patient transfer. In particular, it requires that a sufficient number of personnel be available to physically move the patient from the bariatric bed frame to the standard bed frame. It would be desirable to eliminate the need to move a bariatric patient from one bed to another for the purpose of transporting the patient to another room.

"A third disadvantage associated with multiple bed systems is that the longitudinal side extensions do not align perfectly with the mattress. As a result, high points or low points are created along the longitudinal length of the mattress used with this system. High points will cause pressure points on the patient's skin surface, which may lead to bed sores. Low points may result in patient entrapment or pressure points at other locations on the patient's skin surface due to poor pressure distribution.

"As noted above, to overcome some of the problems associated with multiple bed frame systems, bed frames have been developed that can change width so they fit through the standard hospital door, which is approximately 40-42'' wide. However, the prior art has not provided a variable width support surface that can function without the disadvantages found in the prior art. In particular, it would be desirable to have an inexpensive, variable width support surface with a minimum number of parts, and with a continuous flat surface without high points or low points that may injure a patient."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "The present invention provides a specialty support surface for a variable width bed that can easily change its width from a wide bariatric mattress width to a standard width so it can fit through a standard hospital door frame. The support surface is a mattress replacement, which would be placed on any bariatric bed frame, but is preferably intended for use with a variable width bariatric bed that is designed to reduce its width to fit through a standard door. The mattress replacement has the normal transverse air cells (used to reduce or relieve pressure), but with special independently controllable compartments on the ends of the transverse air cells. By inflating or deflating the independently controlled compartments, the length of the transverse air cells can be varied. These independently controllable compartments are controlled through an electronic controller by simply pressing a keypad on its touch panel. The electronic controller is used to control air pressure to the various compartments of the specialty support surface. The mattress replacement can be single or multi zone. The independently controlled compartments, when inflated, form a continuous flat surface with the traverse cells in the middle of the specialty support surface, and thus do not produce any high points or low points in the support surface."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Biggie, John J.; Biggie, Lydia; Gillis, John. Adjustable Width Bariatric Transport Support Surface. U.S. Patent Number 8650686, filed November 17, 2005, and published online on February 18, 2014. Patent URL:

Keywords for this news article include: Therapy, Hospital, Bariatrics, Legal Issues, Anodyne Medical Device Inc..

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Source: Journal of Engineering

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