How to Choose the Best Hospital Bed Mattress

Hospital bed mattresses, also known as therapeutic or medical mattresses, are usually six inches thick and found in both clinical and in-home settings for the comfort and support of patients and loved ones. 

Types of hospital bed mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are generally the most economical choice. Constructed with evenly distributed inter-mattress coils, this mattress can either be quite soft or rather firm, depending on personal preference. Innerspring mattresses are best suited for patients who experience several hours of mobility a day, and are not bedridden. 

Foam mattresses are also economical, and lighter in weight than an innerspring. They don’t breathe as well as innersprings, but they do absorb some shock from motion. Many are designed to shift the user’s body weight, preventing bedsores and pressure ulcers.

Low air loss mattresses are for low mobility patients with bedsores. They reduce pressure on weight-bearing areas and reduce skin moisture. Many are ‘zoned’ for pressure points, where bedsores commonly develop.

Alternating pressure mattresses provide the benefits of a low air loss mattress, while also aiding in circulation. Alternating inflation and deflation of air cells shifts a person’s weight gently, preventing constant pressure on vulnerable bedsores. This type of mattress helps keep lung secretions and other body fluids moving, and usually has side perimeters to prevent patients from rolling off the mattress. 

Features to consider when choosing a hospital mattress

Patient size: average, tall, or bariatric?

Most mattresses come in a selection of lengths, to accommodate users of various heights. When selecting a hospital bed mattress, one rule of thumb is particularly trusty: choose a mattress somewhat longer than the user is tall. 

Worth noting is that bariatric mattresses (designed specifically for heavier patients) come in both foam and pressure-relieving models.

Need for cleaning: frequent or non-frequent? 

For patients who are incontinent, a mattress with anti-microbial covers and seams is a must - for both patient and caregiver health. 

Many hospital mattresses on the market currently meet this requirement. You will also want to look for mattresses and covers which are waterproof and stain-resistant. 

Mattress life: short-term or long-term?

You may be looking for a mattress that you or a loved one can use long-term, as in cases of chronic or degenerative conditions. 

Or, you may simply need a more comfortable option for a period of recovery from illness or injury!

Either way, budget and cost is something worthy of consideration. Clearly, if the mattress will only serve a temporary need, it is wise to weigh cost against features so users don’t overspend on something they will not use in the long run. 

User mobility: less than 12 hours spent in bed, or more than 12 hours spent in bed?

The more time a person will spend in bed, the more care must be taken to prevent skin conditions such as bed sores, ulcers, and skin shearing. 

If a patient is going to spend the majority of their waking hours in bed, an innerspring mattress is not a good choice. Look for a foam mattress which distributes weight evenly. These usually are constructed with several ‘zones’ which accommodate the varying weight and pressure of different parts of the body, thus preventing bedsores. 

An even better choice would be a low air loss or alternating pressure mattress. These do the best job of preventing bedsores and skin shearing. 

Patient movement: low or high?

Some hospital mattresses feature perimeter guards. These guards give added protection against a patient rolling or falling off of the mattress. (For patients who are at high risk for this, hospital bed guard rails are also advisable.) 

Shearing is a factor to consider. Shearing occurs when the skin rubs against the mattress and gets stuck there, decreasing blood circulation. The result is skin injury below the surface, and eventually, a visible sore. 

For restless patients, a smooth mattress cover specifically meant to prevent shearing is recommended!

What are the best brands of hospital mattress?

We’d like to offer a quick overview of some of the top hospital mattresses available. These mattresses were rated on the basis of their durability, sizing options, cost-effectiveness, and versatility. 

Most importantly, these mattresses were rated higher than most in terms of customer feedback. Each has its own outstanding features and benefits, so you’ll want to review these descriptions with your own particular needs in mind!

  • Drive Medical Therapeutic 5 Zone Support Mattress - This mattress is divided into five zones to create the perfect system of pressure redistribution, preventing bed sores and pressure ulcers from developing on delicate skin. The combination of strength, comfort, and cleanliness make this unit ideal for patients undergoing extended bed rest, as well as a perfect choice for hospitals and patient care facilities.

  • Drive Medical’s Innerspring Hospital Bed Mattress - This is a very cost-effective option in hospital mattresses. Customers report it to be quite firm, but comfortable. The vinyl cover is both waterproof and antibacterial, making it a good choice where frequent cleaning is anticipated.

  • Medline Advantage 300 Foam Mattress - Customers report this to be an extremely comfortable mattress, partially due to the three sections which redistribute weight and pressure for the user. In the same way as Drive Medical’s mattress, the Medline Advantage 300 has an easy-to-clean vinyl cover. (However, it is not antibacterial.) This foam mattress has been reported to last much longer than a typical innerspring mattress!

  • Invacare Deluxe Innerspring Hospital Bed Mattress - This mattress received the most customer praise of any innerspring mattress in our catalogue! One notable feature is that the mattress comes equipped with a bed frame extender, eliminating any problems with fitting a mattress to user’s beds. According to customer reviews, this is both the most durable and the most comfortable inner spring hospital mattress available.

  • Invacare Solace Prevention Therapeutic Foam Mattress - This mattress is constructed of “fortress foam,” which offers a uniquely cushioned and comfortable sleeping surface. The customization options are unique as well. Not only does this mattress come in three lengths, but two of those lengths feature built-in side supports, while the third offers the option of a raised side rail support system and heel support section!

Reasons to purchase a hospital mattress

Caring for a loved one at home can be challenging, both physically and emotionally. Knowing that you are making them as comfortable as possible can ease some of this stress. Particularly for long-term care, a therapeutic mattress is a safer and more comfortable option than your standard bed and mattress. 

If you or someone you love are either partially, mostly, or completely bedridden in addition to being cared for at home, then a hospital mattress (along with a hospital bed) will make your life simpler, healthier, and more comfortable. 

Is the cost of a hospital mattress refundable?

It is important to note that, due to health considerations, hospital mattresses are non-refundable products

Therefore, it’s advisable to consult with a doctor or other healthcare professionals to determine the best choice for you and your loved one’s particular needs.

Does Medicare typically pay for a hospital mattress?

Under Medicare Part B, your therapeutic mattress is classified under “air-fluidized beds and other support surfaces”. As long as it is prescribed by your doctor, a hospital mattress is covered by Medicare as Durable Medical Equipment (DME). 

That said, there are restrictions. If the company you’re purchasing from accepts payment from Medicare, you will pay 20% of the Medicare-approved amount, and the Part B deductible applies. 

Medicare pays for different kinds of DME in different ways. You may need to rent the equipment, you may need to buy it, or you may have a choice. 

In addition, Medicare has very specific rules for how it covers “support surfaces”, based on the patient’s diagnosis, degree of need for skin support, and degree of mobility.

We suggest you contact Medicare or your doctor to discuss your specific situation prior to purchase! 

Will private insurance cover a hospital mattress?

Many insurance companies will consider a hospital mattress to be Durable Medical Equipment, if a hospital bed is also deemed necessary for the patient. Once again, it’s best to contact your insurance company directly to determine what coverage is available in your situation. 

What else do I need to know about purchasing a hospital mattress?

Selecting a hospital mattress for yourself or a loved one means considering matters of comfort, health, and budget. Even with plenty of information, it’s not always easy to weigh these options. 

So that you are not forced to rush into a decision, it’s best to start the learning process as early as possible, and before the need is urgent. Seeking the input of a medical professional is also always a good idea! 

RehabMart is proud to offer a variety of hospital mattresses from Drive Medical, Proactive, Medline, and Invacare.

Visit RehabMart's catalog page to review the full range of hospital mattresses available to you. You’re sure to find one that suits your needs!

Want to learn even more? Find dozens of videos featuring products and caregiver tips like these at Rehabmart’s YouTube channel!


Co-founder/CEO of Rehabmart, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, husband, and father. Passionate about connecting special needs kids with superb nutrition, sensory integration, and complementary health strategies. Excited about Rehabmart's mission to become the premier online educational platform which empowers caregivers by spotlighting innovative devices and interventions to achieve optimal patient response and recovery.

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