Who Invented Medical Beds

If you have ever had to use a medical bed, either because you were hospitalised or because you work in a hospital, care home, nursing home or simply care for someone who is infirm in their own home, you may have marvelled at these contraptions and all that they can do.  And hence, you may be wondering who invented medical beds in the first place?

What Are Medical Beds?

There is some controversy over who actually is the inventor of medical beds.  In order to be able to accurately answer this question, you would first need to determine what actually constitutes a medical bed.  There are several answers to this question:

  • Any bed used in a hospital or healthcare setting.
  • Beds that have side rails.
  • Adjustable beds with side rails and other features.

Basically, the answers to this question demonstrate the timeline of hospital beds.

Timeline of Hospital Beds

Beds in the first ever hospital were no different than any other bed, and generally consisted of a simple frame and mattress, with no further features at all.  Around 1815, side rails were introduced to these beds to stop people from falling out.  These were first introduced in the United Kingdom, but became more and more commonplace.  By the time the Spanish flu broke out, almost every hospital bed had side rails installed onto them.

In 1874, however, Andrew Wuest and Son, from Cincinnati in Ohio, patented what is now known as the adjustable bed.  It was able to elevate the head of the bed, providing better comfort for people who had to stay in bed for extended periods of time.

In the early 1900s, Willis Dew Gatch invented the medical bed as we know it today.  It is also known as the Gatch bed and is made up of three segments.

By 1945, these beds were further developed and the electronic bed was developed.  Originally, these beds came with a toilet built in, thereby reducing the need for bed pans.

So Who Invented Medical Beds?

It should be clear from the above that if you are wondering who invented medical beds, the answer depends entirely on what you class as a medical bed.  If we can at least agree that a medical bed needs to be adjustable, then the inventor of medical beds could be Andrew Wuest.  However, if we look at patenting rights, then surely the inventor was Willis Dew Gatch, who developed the first medical bed as we know them today.

It is hard to determine exactly who invented medical beds.  Most medical professionals do give this claim to Willis Dew Gatch.  However, many feel that if Andrew Wuest had not developed his initial model of adjustable bed, the Gatch bed would never have been developed either, as it is in essence a continuation of the single point adjustable bed, adding two other points to the frame.  There is no official answer to exactly who invented medical beds, and it is mainly due to personal beliefs.

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Who Invented Medical Beds