What Is Safe Patient Handling?
Safe patient handling refers to the patient handling, injury prevention training, procedures, and best practices to ensure the health and safety of workers and patients are adhered to.
According to one study, successful Safe Patient Handling programs have reduced healthcare worker injuries by up to 95%! Patient handling tasks are often performed by those who work in:
- Long-Term Care
- Acute Care
- Home Healthcare
- Physical Therapy
The Hazards of Incorrect Patient Handling
Many healthcare workers suffer musculoskeletal injuries (such as back and shoulder muscle strain or vertebral disc herniation) due to routine work duties, despite many implemented procedures to reduce these injuries. Nurses typically experience injuries caused by overexertion, excessive physical effort, or repetitive motion.
According to the CDC, "rates of musculoskeletal injuries from overexertion in healthcare professions are among the highest of all U.S. industries."
The Benefits of Safe Patient Handling
Occupational safety and health programs have furthered research to distinguish injury risk factors and safety interventions to limit injuries during patient handling. Evidence-based analysis has revealed that safe patient handling interventions can significantly reduce overexertion injuries by replacing manual patient handling with safer methods utilizing the principles of ergonomics.
Safe patient handling products such as MIP Cares' patient positioners save caregiver time and make repositioning much easier and less disruptive, decreasing the risk of injury for both healthcare workers and patients, while improving the quality of patient care.
How to Safely Reposition a Patient
Safely repositioning a patient comes down to proper form and ensuring you're not overexerting yourself. The following points should be considered when repositioning a patient or a loved one:
Before Repositioning a Patient
Before repositioning a patient, you should:
- Ensure the patient you're repositioning is not in pain, as a transfer can do more harm than good.
- Use pillows for comfort and support.
- Remove anything in the area that you might trip over.
- Check that equipment will not move during a transfer.
- Secure all medical equipment on or near the person.
While Repositioning a Patient
While repositioning a patient, there are a few points to keep in mind:
- Protect your lower back when you transfer a person by not stretching your back or turning suddenly during a transfer.
- Try to keep your body in a straight line, with a straight back, bent knees, and your feet shoulder-length apart.
- Lift with your legs, not with your back.
- Ask for help if needed. Whether it's asking the person to help you as much as possible or another practitioner, do not strain your back.
- Move the person smoothly, without sudden movements. Quick position changes can cause falls, injuries, and pain in both you and your patient.
- Use a suitable device to help you transfer the person safely.
After Repositioning a Patient
After you've successfully repositioned your patient, ensure that they are comfortable and are not in a position that cuts off circulation. This could involve adding or adjusting their pillows or using a slide sheet to change their position. If they are attached to any medical equipment, ensure that it is running correctly and tubes or other devices are not blocked.
Safe Patient Handling FAQ
What Should I Use to Handle Patients Safely?
There are numerous types of equipment, both mechanical and manual, which can be used to handle patients safely. The best equipment will depend on what type of movement you are performing. MIP Cares' safe patient handling products aim to reduce caregiver neck and back injuries caused by person repositioning. Our breathable and comfortable line of safe person-handling products also benefits the care recipient during repositioning.
What Is the Difference Between Patient Transfers and Patient Lifts?
A transfer is when the patient aids in the transfer and can support their weight on at least one leg. A lift involves moving a patient who cannot support their weight on at least one leg. Lifts should almost always involve mechanical lifting devices.
Caregiver injuries that occur during transfers generally happen when the movement suddenly becomes a patient lift. This is why an assessment of the patient's capabilities before a transfer is critical.
The MIP Cares product development team partnered with physiotherapists to develop a reusable, safe person handling line with both caregivers and care recipients in mind. When used to reposition a bedridden patient or loved one, our Swift® Patient Positioner and UltraSlide Fitted Bottom Sheet can reduce the physical effort required to reposition by 60%, improving care and diminishing the overall strain on caregivers.