Safe Patient Handling

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  • Updated.jpg This entry is out of date, and will not be updated, July 2017

Introduction

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Safe patient handling refers to how individuals will be moved from bed to toilet or onto gurneys for transportation within a hospital or health facility. SPH involves repositioning patients (such as helping them sit up) and other mobility issues. Patients can be injured during such transfers if movements are not handled properly by healthcare staff. According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), accidents such as falls, bruises, friction burns and skin tears can be reduced through the use of the proper equipment and devices. Additionally, patients can experience improved quality of care, in part because nursing staff is healthy and free of injuries often caused by lifting. Manual lifting is reportedly a major source of injury for healthcare workers such as nurses, nursing aides and orderlies. Since healthcare workers, particularly nurses, are in short supply, it is critical for patient care that such injuries to personnel be avoided. Lifting, repositioning, and transferring patients with equipment as opposed to using human resources provide safer and more secure methods of movement for the patient. The ANA states that use of such equipment relieves patient anxiety and it is often more comfortable for him or her. The type of equipment used can vary and often depends on the capability of the patient. While some patients may be reluctant to try lifting devices, studies show that patients actually fair better when such equipment is used as opposed to manual lifting methods. Patients with concerns should ask staff about training and length of time the equipment has been in use in order to relieve fears. Some hospitals, rehabilitative facilities, and nursing homes have policies that prohibit manual lifting. Patients with concerns about safe patient handling should ask if such a policy is in place prior to admittance.

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