Advocacy groups Health care/social assistance Injury prevention

Prevent injuries among nurses with patient-lifting devices, policies: report

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Washington – Certain patient-moving devices and policies can help nurses avoid injuries, according to a report released June 16 by advocacy group Public Citizen.

The report, the second in a five-part series titled Nursing: A Profession in Peril, describes devices that help move and reposition patients, including ceiling-mounted lifts, floor-based lifts, slide boards and friction-reducing sheets.

Proper body mechanics alone cannot prevent injuries, the report stresses, stating that only 3 percent to 25 percent of hospitals have “comprehensive” safe patient-handling programs. The document calls attention to the importance of having policies and committees to oversee handling practices, as well as ways for workers to report concerns and incidents. Among its recommendations to health care facilities:

  • Commit to safety through written policies that limit manual moving of patients.
  • Organize a safe patient-handling committee.
  • Collect data about handling injuries.
  • Encourage worker input.
  • Make equipment available.
  • Train workers.
  • Provide adequate staffing.
  • Tally and analyze injuries.
  • Give workers the right to refuse a lifting task.