Safe Patient Handling is a common topic among health care workers in hospitals and nursing homes across the country. Most of the patient handling which occurs in these health care settings is performed by nurses and support staff such as nursing aides and orderlies. These professionals are trained in safe patient handling techniques and the proper use of assistive devices. The following excerpt from the CDC regarding safe patient handling gives you an idea of the amount of time and energy health care facilities devote to a program that can protect both the patient and the employee.
“Occupational safety and health programs have fostered research to identify injury risk factors and safety interventions to prevent injuries during patient handling. Evidence-based research has shown that safe patient handling interventions can significantly reduce overexertion injuries by replacing manual patient handling with safer methods guided by the principles of “Ergonomics.” Ergonomics refers to the design of work tasks to best suit the capabilities of workers. In the case of patient handling, it involves the use of mechanical equipment and safety procedures to lift and move patients so that health care workers can avoid using manual exertions and thereby reduce their risk of injury. At the same time, patient handling ergonomics seeks to maximize the safety and comfort of patients during handling.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The rise of Home Care does not diminish the issue of safe patient handling, rather, it should only bolster the importance of understanding the principles involved. Safe lifting programs that incorporate mechanical lifting equipment can protect workers from injury, reduce workers’ compensation costs, and improve the quality of care delivered to patients.
A work-related musculoskeletal disorder is an injury of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, joints, cartilage, bones, or blood vessels in the arms, legs, head, neck, or back that is caused or aggravated by work tasks such as lifting, pushing, and pulling. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, swelling, numbness, and tingling. Lifting and moving patients create a high risk for back injury and other musculoskeletal disorders for home health care workers.
Traxx Mobility Systems manufactures a patient lift system for the home that addresses safe patient handling. The Titan 500 is a freestanding overhead patient lift that allows a single caregiver to safely transfer a patient without the fear of injury. The rechargeable electric motor does all the heavy lifting while the caregiver gently slides the patient across the beam to finish the transfer. Unlike a floor-based lift, the caregiver does not need to move the equipment with the patient in it. The systems fits over the bed and is essentially out of the way until it is needed.