Healthcare News & Insights

Programs for safe patient handling reduce lifting injuries

Safe patient handling practices are crucial to make sure hospital staff avoid injuries when transporting or lifting patients. New research shows just how critical these protocols are for hospitals in promoting a safer work environment. 

115768353According to a Reuters article published in the Insurance Journal, researchers compared data from two hospitals – one that had put a safe patient handling program in place and another that didn’t.

The facility that implemented the program had significant changes in staff injury rates while lifting and moving patients.

Workers’ odds of experiencing neck and shoulder injuries decreased by 32% after the first year of the policy. Their odds of lifting and exertion injuries went down by 27%. And their chances of pain and inflammation went down by 22%.

Meanwhile, the facility that didn’t implement the program had no real changes to the likelihood of injury for these cases.

Both facilities previously invested in equipment that gave staff the ability to move patients’ more safely, such as swings and lifting devices.

However, the hospital that created the safe patient handling program purchased several more pieces of equipment to help with lifting, such as slings, sit-to-stand devices, ceiling lifts and air-assisted lateral transfer devices. This equipment was purchased to help staff prevent injuries when lifting larger patients.

Staff were specifically trained on the new equipment’s use, as well as on the best ways to move patients and avoid injuries in different scenarios.

Avoid risks of unsafe lifting

Hospitals that don’t have a safe patient handling program in place put their clinical staff in danger of being hurt, especially since on-the-job injuries in health care are extremely common during patient transport.

A survey administered to workers from both hospitals at the beginning of study found that 80% of respondents experienced some sort of pain related to their jobs in the past three months. Over half of them had lower back pain – and 43% had neck or shoulder pain. One-third of them said the pain interfered with their daily duties at the hospital.

Smart practices for preventing injuries, regardless of if your hospital has a safe patient handling strategy, include the correct use of proper body mechanics.

Another key element is for hospital staff to always ask for assistance when it’s needed for a lift, whether it’s from a piece of equipment or from other staff members.

But your facility’s best bet is to implement a safe patient handling program. Not only are these programs backed by research, they establish clear guidelines for staff to follow for moving and lifting patients, which reduces injuries.

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