The Importance of Proper Medical Mattress Maintenance

On April 19, 2013 the FDA released a Safety Communication titled “Damaged and Worn Medical Bed Mattresses Pose Risk of Contamination and Patient Infection“.

In this communication, the FDA states that during a two year period beginning in January 2011 the FDA had received 458 reports of mattresses failing to prevent blood and other bodily fluids from leaking into the mattress.

The cause of the fluid invasion can be due to the mattress cover becoming worn or damaged from small holes or rips in the fabric. Fluid invasion can also be attributed to incorrect cleaning, disinfection, and laundering procedures. Cover zipper may also be a culprit.

Medical literature has indicated that damaged and wet mattresses can be a source of contamination during infection outbreaks.

The FDA is concerned that mattress fluid invasion from worn or damaged mattresses and mattress covers may be widespread and largely under-recognized by healthcare providers.

So what can you do?

The FDA offers the following recommendations:


  1. Regularly check each medical mattress and mattress cover for any visible signs of damage or wear such as cuts, tears, pinholes, cracks, snags or stains.
  2. Routinely remove medical bed mattress covers and check its inside surface. once the mattress cover is removed, inspect the mattress for wet spots, staining, or signs of damage or wear. Check all sides and the bottom of the mattress.
  3. Be aware that it may be difficult to identify damaged or soiled mattresses because mattress covers tend to be dark in color.

Remove and Replace

  1. Remove any damaged, worn or visibly stained medical bed mattresses according to the healthcare facility’s procedures and manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Immediately replace any medical bed mattress cover with visible signs of damage or wear to reduce the risk of infection to patients.


  1. Clean and disinfect undamaged medical bed mattress covers according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  2. Do not stick needles into a medical bed mattress through the mattress cover

Develop an Inspection Plan

  1. Check the expected line of the medical bed mattress and the mattress cover.
  2. Create an inspection plan for all medical bed mattresses in your facility.
  3. Contact the medical bed mattress cover manufacturer for any additional questions.
For more information on this FDA Safety Communication, please visit the FDA’s website:

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