Proper equipment, training ensure safe lifting of patients

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), health care workers experience musculoskeletal disorders at a higher rate than do those in construction, mining, manufacturing and other trades. NIOSH cites a number of factors, including the rising age of both staff and patients and the overall increase in weight of the patient population.safeLifting

Hallmark Health System has invested in new equipment to safely move patients. Three main types of transfer devices are in use at HHS:

Hoyer lift. Either portable or ceiling-mounted, the Hoyer lift is a swing that enables a patient to be moved from a bed, wheelchair or other piece of equipment.

HoverMatt. This is an air mattress placed under the patient and inflated. “The mat has tiny perforations that allow air to escape gradually so the patient can glide along the mattress while moving from a bed to a stretcher, for example,” said Joy Gaviola, MSN, RN, CRRN, clinical nurse educator.

HoverJack. This is a tall air mattress that inflates from floor level to bed level. “Should a patient fall,” said Gaviola, “this is a way to safely return the patient to bed, minimizing the risk of further injury.”

Also at the disposal of staff are more traditional assistive devices such as sliding boards and gait belts. The equipment is used for any patient who needs moderate to complete assistance for mobility, including paralyzed and comatose patients, obese patients, and those with limited mobility who need transfer assistance. “Since acquiring this transfer equipment, our training has focused on its proper use,” said Gaviola. “If employees are picking up anything heavier than 30 pounds, they should find someone to help them or use one of the devices.” HHS’s Adult Day Health program also has a new standing and raising aid, called a Sara Lite lift, which helps raise and lower semi-dependent participants for transfers and toileting. This eliminates the need for three staff to assist in such transfers and increases safety for both clients and staff. Gaviola added, “When staff injuries are reduced, the quality of patient care improves. Safe nurses mean safe and satisfied patients.” 

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