Maintenance best practice for electric profiling beds (EPBs)

10th August 2018

The use of electric profiling beds is widespread across UK NHS and other health and care organisations. This equipment has made major contributions to quality of life, comfort and recovery of the patient involved, as well as to reductions in manual handling risks faced by health and care employees. Medical equipment safety – what’s involved? Electric profiling bed equipment is subject to inspection and maintenance standards as laid out by the Medical Devices Regulations 2002 and the Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998 (PUWER) which establishes that equipment provided for use at work must be ‘safe for use, maintained in a safe condition, and inspected to ensure it is correctly installed and does not subsequently deteriorate’. Additionally, in the latest issue of the MHRA’s Managing Medical Devices, it is stated that a “healthcare organisation’s medical device policy must cover the provision of maintenance and repair of all medical devices”. Electric profiling beds are classified in terms of both their power supply and patient safety characteristics. As with regular electrical equipment, they are designated either Class I or Class II, depending on whether the equipment has a protective earth or are doubly insulated. Where they differ is that they are also classified by the connection they have with a patient:

  • Type B Applied Parts provide a certain level of protection for any part of the equipment in contact with a patient, but are not suitable for direct cardiac applications.
  • Type BF Applied Parts provides greater protection against electric shocks than B but are not suitable for direct cardiac applications
  • Type CF Applied Parts provides the highest degree of protection against electric shocks and are suitable for use when there are direct cardiac connections.
Specialist medical equipment that is likely to be heavily used and physically moved around, requires experienced and qualified medical inspection personnel to undertake maintenance testing. Standard portable appliance test methods do not meet requirements for body models, current leakage and fault tolerances required for medical equipment in direct contact with patients,  so EPB should not be tested by portable appliance technicians. Electric profile bed maintenance testing should typically include:
  • Manufacturers checklist tests evaluating H&S risks to staff and Patients.
  • Visual Inspection of the plug top, fuse, lead and appliance
  • Protective earth community and insulation resistance
  • Equipment leakage current, touch current and applied part leakage current
  • Functional test for normal use
 What should inspection and maintenance best practice for EPB look like? Put simply, annual inspection and maintenance of electric bed equipment verifies the safety, performance and condition of these important medical equipment assets.  One annual visit from a qualified experienced engineer should deliver a comprehensive inspection regime. Beds must be un-occupied during the inspection. Annual maintenance testing by competent qualified persons delivers value to health and care organisations in terms of minimising risk of electrical incidents and manual handling, extending equipment lifecycle, and maintaining a full asset list of and condition report on all equipment in use. Dominic Cadwallader is the General Manager at JPen Medical with more than 15 years’ experience in the compliance and safety sector. Got a question for Dom? Drop him a line at