June 14, 2023 | Terry Smith

What are the most common problems with patient stretchers? – with solutions

Patient stretchers are an integral part of hospitals, serving as essential equipment for safe and efficient patient transportation. While they provide numerous benefits, like any other equipment, patient stretchers can encounter certain issues that impact their functionality and effectiveness.

In this article, we will explore the most common problems associated with patient stretchers and discuss potential solutions to address these challenges.

Mechanical issues

Patient stretchers, like any mechanical device, can experience malfunctions over time. Issues such as broken wheels and brakes, faulty hydraulic systems, or malfunctioning height adjustments can hinder the smooth operation of the stretcher. These malfunctions can disrupt patient flow and lead to delays in care.

Solution: Regular maintenance and repairs

Implementing a proactive maintenance program is crucial to prevent mechanical issues. Regular inspections, lubrication, and servicing by trained biomedical technicians can help identify and address potential problems early on. Prompt repairs and replacements of faulty components are essential to ensure the reliable and safe operation of patient stretchers.


Limited weight capacity

Weight capacity is an important consideration when it comes to patient stretchers. Exceeding the weight limit can compromise the structural integrity of the stretcher, posing risks to both patients and healthcare providers. Limited weight capacity can restrict the types of patients that can be safely transported, leading to logistical challenges.

Solution: Acquiring robust stretchers with high safe working loads. 

Hospitals should invest in patient stretchers that have higher weight capacities to accommodate a wide range of patients. It is crucial to assess the weight limits of stretchers and ensure they align with the needs of the patient population served. Acquiring stretchers with robust construction and materials that can withstand heavy loads will help eliminate concerns regarding weight limitations.


Difficult manoeuvrability

Manoeuvring patient stretchers in tight spaces, crowded hallways, or through doorways can be challenging, particularly if the stretchers lack proper manoeuvrability features such as 5th wheels. Limited mobility can impede patient flow and cause delays in transfers, affecting overall efficiency.

Solution: Staff training and investing in stretchers with good manoeuvrability

Patient stretchers with 5th-wheel steering, ergonomic handles, and compact designs facilitate easier manoeuvrability. Upgrading to stretchers with features like motorized assistance can also enhance mobility and streamline patient transportation. Ensuring proper training for healthcare providers on manoeuvring techniques and safe navigation can further improve patient flow and efficiency.


Inadequate infection control measures

Maintaining proper hygiene and infection control is of utmost importance in healthcare settings. Patient stretchers that are difficult to clean, have porous surfaces, or lack antimicrobial properties can pose a risk for cross-contamination.

Solution: Stretchers with enhanced infection control features

Healthcare facilities should invest in patient stretchers designed with materials and surfaces that are easy to clean and disinfect. Hospitals should invest in stretchers with antimicrobial properties and seamless construction that minimizes areas where dirt and bacteria can accumulate. Removable and washable mattress covers should also be used to ensure thorough cleaning between patients.



Patient stretchers play a crucial role in healthcare settings, facilitating safe and efficient patient transportation. However, they are not immune to certain problems that can hinder their functionality and impact patient flow.

By addressing common issues with patient stretchers, hospitals can improve the patient and staff experience and improve overall operational efficiency. Regular maintenance, equipment upgrades, and prioritizing infection control are key steps in mitigating the problems associated with patient stretchers, ultimately leading to a smoother and more effective healthcare environment.



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