Nurses union says mattresses leaking bodily fluids discovered in Tacoma hospital

The union representing nurses at St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma says it took the hospital too long to get rid of hospital beds that appear to be leaking bodily fluid.

The Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) says micro-tears in mattresses absorbed bodily fluids from previous patients and potentially exposed other patients who used the beds.

FOX 13 obtained a complaint filed with the DOH last month.

The document reveals a timeline that says these beds were discovered in the hospital's labor and delivery unit and that the hospital was alerted in early September.

WSNA sent videos of a bed with patches that appear to be oozing bodily fluid.

"The patching material apparently wasn't applied correctly because it rolled up around the edges and there was still body fluids seeping between the patches," said Ruth Schubert, the marketing director for WSNA.

In a statement, Jennifer Schomburg, the president of St. Joseph Medical Center, said: 

"St. Joseph Medical Center takes the highest responsibility to ensure the safety and quality of our equipment for our patients. Any mattresses that are compromised are immediately taken out of commission and not used for patient care. As a standard process, we regularly inspect all beds after every use when they are cleaned and disinfected, and immediately remove any mattresses from use if they do not meet safety standards." 

The hospital says the bed shown in the video has been taken out of commission. They provided this background:

  • As a standard process, to ensure patient care and safety are not compromised, we regularly inspect all beds after every use when they are cleaned and disinfected. Mattresses that do not meet safety standards are immediately removed from service.
  • An approved protocol to patch mattresses was put into place only for situations when it is safe and appropriate to do so, based on the level of damage. Any mattresses that are damaged and therefore unable to be safely patched are immediately removed from the floor.
  • Due to supply chain disruptions affecting the entire region and industry, we are not able to order replacement beds as quickly as usual. Patching is an interim measure until replacement beds can be delivered. Replacement beds have been ordered and are arriving as they are available. Compromised beds and mattresses remain out of service and are not being used while we await the new beds.

WSNA says supply chain issues aren't enough of an answer and this issue took too long to resolve.

"What St. Joe's said may be the ideal, but that's certainly not what happened here. It took two months to get this problem resolved and that's just too long," said Schubert.