Safe Patient Handling
New Professional Standards
Concerns over the hazards associated with lifting and handling patients continue to mount. A document titled “National Standards for Interprofessionals” released this June addressed this issue. The publication Nursing World also reviewed a sample of important safe patient handling standards.
Many professional organizations contribute to this work and endorse new safe patient handling standards. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the American Nursing Association (ANA), and the Veterans Administration (VA) are among major organizations who support these new standards.
Some key reasons for the development of national safe patient handling standards include:
- Work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) among nurses lead the way. Back and shoulder injuries are the most costly occupational health problem in the U.S. (Nelson et al., 2009).
- Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants ranked first in the list of occupations who have the highest incident rate for MSDs. In 2007, the incidence rate was 252 cases per 10,000 workers. This is 7 times the national average for all occupations.
- Health care workers are at higher risk for back injuries due to repetitive lifting. Many patients need frequent help from a caregiver. many of whom lack adequate lifting or transfer devices at their place of employment.
- Patients are heavier. Obesity rates continue to rise in most U.S. States.
- Age is one of the most likely causes of MSD. The average age of a registered nurse is approximately 47 years old. At this age, the nurse’s resiliency to tissue injury is far less than that of a younger nurse.
- Many clinicians are not aware that MSDs are the result of cumulative lifting events. They hold onto the belief that using “proper body mechanics” protect against lifting injuries.
Safe Patient Handling Standards Summary
I have provided a brief review of “Safe Patient Handling Standards for Interprofessionals”. Yet non-professional caregivers and spouses are also subject to the same hazards associated with manual lifting.
Friends and family caregivers often don’t have lifting devices available to them in the event their loved has a non-traumatic fall. Instead, they rely on manual lifting techniques which also puts them at risk of injury.
Hence, the ResQUp was purposely designed to be:
- Effectiveness, affordability, and portability
- Floor recovery following non-traumatic falls in clinical, adult care, and in-home settings.
- Mobility training for people who want to practice getting down to the floor and back into a chair in case they fall.
- Strengthening and conditioning for upper and lower body extremities as a complement to fall prevention therapy.
- Usefulness in daily living activities like playing with a grandchild, performing floor exercises, and retrieving items from under a kitchen sink, etc.
At Safe Patient Solutions, we want you to be successful in getting up from the floor to a seat, walker, bed, or wheelchair, if the situation ever occurs. Successfully getting up from the floor using a mobility device like the ResQUp often requires assessment of your physical abilities. For example; You will need enough strength in your arms and legs to push or lift your body up 4½ inches from the floor to the first level and the subsequent 2 levels. If you do not have the strength to raise yourself up 4½ inches, you may want to consider strengthening
Patient lifts typically come in the form of mechanical lift equipment used to get patients up from the floor following a fall. Generally, when a healthcare worker wants to safely transfer a patient horizontally or vertically, the worker will frequently ask somebody to bring a “patient lift”.
Dr. Peraza has been engaged in the research and development of physical therapy/ musculoskeletal devices since 2009. His research interests in Ergonomic and Occupational Medicine studies led to the invention of the ResQUp fall recovery device...
Mounting concerns over the hazards associated with physically lifting and handling patients resulted in the release of “National Standards for Interprofessionals” this June. A sample of these important standards can be reviewed at Nursing World.
As a health care professional working with the elderly and/or disabled, you are very aware of the problems inherent in lifting patients. At the Safe Patient Handling Conference held in San Diego in September, 2010 and again in 2011, this important subject was brought into focus.
A caregiver's job is rewarding but there is also the risk of getting injured while handling patients and performing other tasks in the client's home. One thing you can do to reduce injuries is to use medical lifting devices such as the sling lift to transport the patient...