Safe Patient Handling

safeliftequip2Safe Patient Handling

Many times people believe that pain comes from a single event of lifting or repositioning a patient. In reality, it is often the years of straining, repetitive tasks, awkward postures, lifting, and twisting and the weakening of back and stomach muscles. These small injuries will add up and eventually can cause permanent damage. Learn why improper patient handling is so risky and what you can do to keep yourself and your team safe from potential injury.

Why does it matter?

Potential impacts of an injury caused by patient handling may include:

  • Numerous doctor visits
  • Surgery
  • Days off work
  • Missed experiences with family
  • Lost income
  • Chronic Back pain
  • Increased stress

What is the risk?

Manual positioning and lifting of patients is riskier than other objects or equipment because:

  • Patients can’t be held close to the body
  • Patients can move during a lift
  • Patients do not have handles to assist in lifting
  • You can’t predict what will happen while you’re taking care of a patient
  • Patients may fall or lose balance while assisting them to move

How can I prevent Patient Handling Injuries?

Use S.T.A.R.

  • Stop: before moving or repositioning your patient.
  • Think: about a safe way to do it and what equipment you need to use.
  • Act: Enlist help from your manager or others in your department. Explain to your patient the equipment you are going to use and how you will use it.
  • Review: your actions.

Learn to use your Patient Handling Equipment

  • Find your manager or others in your department who know how to use this equipment and have them show you.
  • Attend safety fairs that your entity has where lift equipment and vendors are there to provide training.
  • The best way to become successful and comfortable with using this equipment is by practicing.

Don’t lift manually, unless absolutely necessary

  • Even repositioning average size patients manually can do damage to your body.
  • Preplan for larger patients and those with fall risks with your manager so your team knows that lift equipment should be ready to use before they are put into their rooms, when possible.
  • Know where the Lift Equipment is and how it should be maintained and charged.
  • Know what slings and other accessories each piece of equipment uses and where these are stored.
  • Don’t let where it is stored be an excuse for not using it.

Explain the equipment and procedure to the patients

  • Explanation of what the equipment is before bringing it into the room will make them more comfortable with it and know what to expect.
  • Explain the safety benefits for all involved when using the equipment:
    • They are less likely to be dropped.
    • The equipment reduces the chance of injuries due to pulling and tugging involved with manual lifting.
    • It is easier on their skin.
    • It also keeps the staff safe.

Available Training/Resources