Proper lifting improves patient safety

Written by David Milen. Posted in Uncategorized


Published on March 17, 2011 with No Comments

by David Milen

One of the areas we often forget within in our facilities concerning patient safety deals with back injuries. I’m not talking about back injuries to the patients per se, but the back injuries that may occur to staff and other personnel improperly moving a patient.

There are many instances where our daily lives become filled with what I refer to as “noise.” These are the little things that get us off track and make us often forget the proper lifting methods for ourselves, but more importantly for our patients.

There are many devices that can be used in assisting personnel to move patients from a bed to a wheelchair, or from bed to bed. One of the methods for moving the patient safely is obviously using the sheets and blankets that are present. This will require coordination with staff and other members that are present in the room.

On occasion, you will see ambulance personnel perform this similar maneuver when transferring patients from the ambulance stretcher to the bed in a hospital setting. Normally, there are two ambulance personnel and a few hospital personnel to assist with the move in order to ensure a safe journey for the patient.

Another device that can be used is called a patient slide. This device is thin, has various handles, and slides very easily under the patient while the patient is in bed. The patient may have to be moved to one side or the other, which is not an uncommon practice, and the device is placed beneath the patient.

Once the patient is placed on the device, the patient can be moved smoothly from one bed to another while staff and personnel grab the handles on all sides to move the patient. The process repeats itself once the patient is on the other bed for easy removal of the device and maintaining patient comfort as much as possible.

One final method of moving patients concerns the use of a bariatric lift. The lift can be used by one staff person to assist the bariatric patient into another bed or wheelchair. It is especially designed to have the patient placed in a comfortable position, have minimal movement, and then be lifted automatically with a press of a button.

This allows the patient to be securely moved to another location, puts less stress on the staff regarding moving the patient, and minimizes the risk of a back injury to staff and patients. Using a common sense approach to lifting and truly caring for the needs of patients comes as a top priority for all parties involved.

In an effort to improve patient safety, it may be beneficial for hospitals to consider performing monthly safety rounds regarding back injuries, slips and falls, and other areas that might be beneficial for staff to express their concerns about regarding patient safety.

It is a team effort when it comes to patient safety initiatives, and all parties involved must be on the same page when it comes to safety, satisfaction, and welcoming family members into respective facilities. We always have to remember that the patient comes first.

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About David Milen

David Milen is executive director of the Northwest Indiana Patient Safety Coalition and manager of safety and security at St. Margaret Mercy Healthcare Centers. For more information on Milen or the NWIPSC, visit

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