Ergonomics Hospital & Lab Safety Nursing Patient Satisfaction Point of Care

The Dangers of Poor Patient Handling Techniques

When studies show that a person can put about 1,000lb of pressure on their back just by turning a 100lb person on their side, it’s not surprising to discover that in 2011, patient-handling injuries accounted for one in four healthcare-related worker’s comp claims.

Patient-handling worker’s comp claims cost on average $15,600—and that’s not even taking into account indirect or less-visible costs including productivity, overtime, and employee turnover. 12% of nurses list back pain as the major contributing factor for leaving the field, while 38% have suffered occupational-related back pain that was severe enough to require leave from work.

While national recommendations support the use of assistive lifting equipment if a patient exceeds 35lb, it’s safe to assume that not everyone heeds that advice.

This issue isn’t going away anytime soon, especially considering that one in three US adults is obese.

Despite the fact that bariatric patients account for less than 10% of patients in acute care facilities, they’re associated with nearly one-third of patient-handling injuries. The consequences for healthcare professionals are sobering, but that’s not all that’s at stake. Consider also the patient and budget risk factors.  Patients who are obese spend on average 40% more on healthcare than patients of normal weight. Poor patient-handling conditions and a lack of bariatric equipment can negatively affect patient safety and recovery time, as well as HCAHPS scores, which in turn can jeopardize Medicare reimbursements and patient referrals.

While updating your facility can take substantial resources, planning, and money, there are some simple product solutions that help minimize risks.

Assistive lifting equipment designed to ease strain on healthcare professionals and make patient transfers safe and easy:

  • Mobile lift units and slings allow one caregiver to move a patient from one location to another without further staff assistance. The lift units’ mobile designs also make them convenient for use with multiple patients.
  • Lateral transfer aids—including air-assisted transfer devices, slide sheets, and transfer boards—ease bodily strain and reduce the number of healthcare professionals required to reposition or laterally transfer patients.
  • Sit-to-stand lifts and standing aids are ideal for patients with limited mobility who are unable to stand or move around the room without assistance.

Equipment that reduces the need to move or transfer patients, as well as minimizes the weight burden on both caregivers and their patients:

  • Bariatric wheelchairs and assistive equipment including walkers and canes ease weight burdens for patients and allow for some independent mobility
  • Bath chairs and shower gurneys allow for more comprehensive bathing while reducing bodily strain on caregivers.

Visit for our full line of bariatric solutions, including wheelchair scales, step stools, and draw chairs with weight limits up to 1,000lb.
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