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The bedpan evolution: How to make hospitalized patients feel like they are in their home bathroom

  • 2ndSkn

  • Design value

  • Storytelling

  • Shape

  • For proper cleaning and pouring, the two parts must be separated and tilt the tank to empty it.

What it does

For patients that are bedridden and have difficulty moving to the toilet, the most commonly used product to assist them is the bedpan. With this product we want to improve the bedpan design and facilitate its usability by the patient and the nurse.

Your inspiration

This is a project in collaboration with Hospital Clinic from Barcelona. They proposed a series of problems to solve by improving product design. Among all of them, the most necessary was the redesign of the bedpan. This turns out to be a product that isn't very ergonomic and in the long run impractical. It causes difficulties in its usability for both patients and nurses. Problems in its placement or transport once filled and problems that directly affect the patient such as the generation of ulcers or marks due to its rigid material. The problem seemed very interesting to us and we saw a lot of potential for its change so we started with it.

How it works

The design we propose is based on the shape of the human body itself and its needs to facilitate evacuation for the patient and help healthcare staff to remove and clean it. To this end, the design focuses on a raised part between the legs to ensure correct positioning and prevent the sheet from rubbing against the patient, with an anti-leak edge to prevent spillage. The design is made in two parts, the solid (inner) part which is made of PLA (like the current wedge) and the superficial part which is made of surgical silicone, being a soft and safe material that adapts to the body and is gentle to the skin.

Design process

The 'Second Skin' design process is based on a deep analysis of the current bedpan, which has not changed since time immemorial. After talking with nurses, doctors and internal patients who deal daily with the evacuation process in bed, we analyzed the problem and proceeded to find a solution to make this practice a friendly and humane process. We begin by making sketches generating light curves that adapt to the patient's sanity and the surface on which it will be placed. In addition to the ergonomic shape, we wanted to add a higher element that would remain between the patient's legs in order to keep the sheet separated from the body, which would facilitate comfort and prevent it from staining. After formalizing the shape, we decided on the materials. We needed a skin-friendly material, so we decided to opt for silicone. And for the container where the waste is collected could be made of PLA or cardboard. We carried out the first 3D modeling tests, which we printed in 3D and improved until the final shape was achieved. Finally we made a real scale model and structural simulation studies, with which we were able to finalize and approve our current proposal.

How it is different

The 'Second Skin' design is unique and different from the rest as it prioritizes the user experience, as well as that of the nurse. We wanted to put ourselves in the patient's shoes in the first person to achieve an ergonomic design that is friendly and prevents injuries after prolonged use. The shape and material make it possible to generate a surface that adapts to the patient's anatomy, differing from the rigidity and angular shapes of the current wedge. We achieved a unique element made up of two pieces, which when separated are very easily cleaned to speed up and facilitate the work of the nurse during the use process and afterwards.

Future plans

The next phases to develop are the testing of the generated prototypes with patients and nurses to evaluate their good usability, ergonomics and practicality. Once these test studies are finished, the design will be perfected until a result that meets the study requirements is obtained. We would continue with the manufacture and industrialization of the product, adjusting its technical and economic feasibility. Finally we would begin to implement it little by little until it was definitively established.


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