Key features to consider in a bariatric hospital bed

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A bariatric bed is a specialised bed made specifically to accommodate larger and heavier patients. It is wider than regular hospital beds and allows for more patient comfort and dignity.

Before addressing the most important features to consider in bariatric beds, it's important to remember why every hospital should have bariatric beds readily available. The hospital bed is an important medical device which patients may remain on for days or weeks. During their stay patients will spend 83% of their time in bed.¹

The availability of appropriately sized beds can help reduce rental costs, and enable greater throughput and turnover from the emergency department, intensive care unit and operating room.² It also provides a safer experience for the patient. 

There are several important features to keep in mind when deciding which bariatric bed would be best suited for your hospital in order to meet your care teams’ needs and ensure patient dignity and safety:

Weight capacity

To ensure it can support any patient coming into the facility, a bariatric bed should be able to accommodate a safe working load up to 450kg. This ensures adequate support for both the patient and essential accessories, such as IV poles, patient helpers and support surfaces. Great bariatric beds should also be able to function properly when being used by a lighter patient. Some bariatric beds require a minimum weight for the patient to use certain functions, such as the scale.

Adjustability and height

Low height

Having a low height bariatric bed is beneficial for both staff and patients. A hospital bed should go low enough for patients to safely ingress and egress the bed, minimising the risk of falls. The bed should also rise high enough so caregivers can work with little to no bending to help minimise stress and strain.

Furthermore, height adjustments make it easier for staff to position patients properly. Easy bed height adjustments also offer bariatric patients a dignified experience by allowing them to avoid getting up and down from the bariatric beds too frequently.

Adjustable width

“A patient of size placed on a bed of insufficient size or weight capacity may experience negative outcomes including increased risk of pressure injury, decline in functional independence due to difficulty repositioning, or sleep deprivation due to discomfort.’’ 

Having an adjustable bariatric bed allows patients of almost any size, within the weight capacity of the bed, to be comfortable and have space to move around. Weight distribution can look different from one patient to another. It is important to have beds that can easily adapt to anyone.


Recognising the challenges posed by the weight of bariatric beds, prioritising manoeuvrability is essential. Bariatric beds often need multiple people to move them. This is particularly challenging in understaffed medical facilities. Time and effort should focus on patient care, not struggling with moving beds.

To solve this problem, a lot of bariatric hospital beds, such as the ook snow ALL bariatric bed now offer a powered drive system to allow one person to move the bed easily around a hospital, even when a patient is in bed. 

Compatibility of accessories 

Seamless integration with existing accessories such as IV poles, urinal holders, oxygen holders, removable pump holders, and side rail pads streamlines operational workflows, minimising setup time and enhancing efficiency. Uniformity across bed platforms ensures consistency in equipment usage, facilitating staff proficiency and resource allocation.

Other elements to consider when purchasing a bariatric bed

Design of the bed

When a bariatric bed is designed with bariatric patients in mind, staff members can handle their patients more safely and provide them with comfort and dignity. Having a beautifully designed bed can seem vain, but it provides dignity to the patient. It ensures that every bariatric patient going through the hospital doors feels the same as any other patient.

Ease of use

Bariatric beds should be easy to use. Having a short learning curve will make staff confident and increase efficiency when using the bed, even if they do not use it every day. Beds built on the same platform make it easy for healthcare personnel to know exactly how to operate the beds, as they all work on the same system and software. Having a versatile bariatric bed will also help staff be more familiar with the bed, as it can be used more often and in more contexts.

Easy to clean

Every bed coming into a hospital should be easy to clean to support infection prevention protocols. When choosing a bariatric bed, here are some elements that should be considered to ensure easy cleaning:

  • Seamless smooth surfaces that are resistant to most cleaning products used in medical care settings
  • Flat mattress decks and an open bed architecture for easy maintenance and cleaning
  • Side rails that never touch the floor

How does the ook snow ALL bariatric bed meet your staff and patients’ needs?

  • The ook snow ALL bed can accommodate all patients throughout multiple care environments with its one-step width expansion system, 480kg weight capacity and low height.
  • The ook snow ALL bed can go low without compromising overall functionality and compatibility with other equipment like tables and bed lifts.
  • Our hospital beds are all based on the same bed platform, making it easy for staff to learn how to operate our bariatric bed.


Originally published by Umano Medical.

To find out more about our range of hospital beds, please get in touch with our team.

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