Moving patients safely
The transfer of patients is a high-risk activity whether it’s from a bed to wheelchair, stretcher or via assistance and it’s a key factor in the high injury rates of hospital workers. According to a 2011 report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics injury, hospital staff are injured from overexertion in lifting and lowering at twice the average in other workplaces.1 Despite this reality, hospitals have been slow to implement “no manual lift” policies or to provide adequate equipment. A nationwide survey of 1,000 randomly selected nurses in the U.S. found that 51 per cent of participants reported no devices that can lift patients on their unit.2 Safe moving policies, however, are a no-brainer, given that staff and patient injuries result in increased sick days and shortages, compensation payments and poor morale among staff. The following tips can ensure your hospital staff conducts safe patient transfers.
The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends one full-body lift to be available for every eight to 10 non weight-bearing patients.3 While the guideline applies to nursing homes with a less temporary patient population, hospitals should conduct at least two surveys at intervals at least one month apart, regarding the mobility levels of their patient population. While cost is a barrier to purchasing mechanical full-body lift
equipment, the long-term cost of injuries due to a lack of this equipment outweighs the initial investment. 4 In addition, the NIOSH notes that
while perceptions of lifting equipment being bulky, awkward and slow to operate may stand in the way of new purchases, modern lifting equipment is compact and convenient.