Patient handling and moving equipment are essential for both patient and the nursing staff. It not only benefits the patient by reducing the morbidity rate during transfer but also relieves the caretaker from associated occupational pains.
Equipment is a primary component for effective patient handling and movement partnered with using correct equipment handling techniques, well trained staff and appropriate design of any healthcare facility. For appropriate use of equipment, training programs and simulation devices are essential in any hospital setting as proper use of equipment is crucial for the safety of patients as well as caretakers improving the quality of client care. In comparison with the techniques that involve manual force to transfer the client, the use of handling and moving equipment reduces the effort and the risks of falling and morbidity. It also leads to improvement in patient's outcome toward treatment, reducing their length of stay and the risk of complications such as chest infections, pressure ulcers, deep vein thrombosis, urinary tract infections, and skin tears. The hospitals look for having fit-for-purpose equipment for providing proper care to the patient.
Types of Equipment
Rising demand for patient moving and handling equipment has led to the development of various types of equipment. The market players are offering various types of patient equipment that assist in making the patient comfortable during treatment while sitting, standing, or walking from one place to another or just lying down comfortably in the bed. For instance, there are special types of chairs which can be converted into stretchers by reclining them completely at the back of the chair and by raising the leg support. Such chairs are mainly used for lateral transfer between the bed and the chair and eliminate the need for vertical transfer manually. Similarly, a trapeze bar allows the patient to maneuver in bed or getting in or out of the bed. This bar is fixed with pivoting assist rails which allow for gripping and give good support. The balance pole affixed allows lightheaded patient to stabilize themselves and avoid falls and resultant injuries.
Hoisting devices also known as patient lifts need to be taken into account as important equipment of this genre. Companies are offering in array of lifts including hoist slings, overhead lifts, bath lifts, bariatric lifts, stand-up lifts specially designed for the specific needs of the patients. These lifts can run on rechargeable batteries, with fold down systems for easy storage and have a capability to accommodate patients weighing as much as 400 pounds while bariatric units are designed to carry heavier weights.
Advance Patient Moving and Handling Requisites
Despite the presence of the must have equipment, a realistic and practical way is to use simulation equipment that require equipment needs to be performed in various places including patient rooms, bathrooms, and other common transfer locations.
Ceiling-mounted lifts: Ceiling-mounted lifts are usually installed in patient rooms where high use is expected. Although expensive, these lifts are considered the most convenient option as they are available in the patient's rooms due to which nurses are more likely to use them for transferring patient from the room to other locations such as diagnosis centers or operation theaters. Hospitals also opt for mobile floor lifts in areas of low use as they can be moved easily from one room to another. The base of the lifts is adjusted in such a way that they can be fitted under beds and stretchers assisting the nursing staff during transfers. These lifts are not as expensive as ceiling mounted lifts but they require more space and are usually fitted in doorways in a manner that there is sufficient space for maneuverability within the patient room.
Track systems: Track systems for any ceiling mounted lifts play an important role in safe patient handling. Transverse tracks (H tracks) are considered more appropriate as they provide broader coverage within patient rooms and more options for patient handling tasks. Curved tracks are used for transitions from one room to another, for instance from patient room to the bathroom. The track system depends upon the area where the tracks will be mounted to ensure it is sufficient to support the combined weight of the lift, lifting equipment, and other superimposed loads.
Special Training Programs
Various hospitals undergo special programs which are aimed at providing training for the correct techniques for patient moving and handling equipment to staff and for selection of appropriate equipment according to the requirement. These programs are necessary to reduce rates of injury when the users are knowledgeable about on how to use the equipment. Successful programs ensure that the staff gets trained on lifting, transferring, and repositioning clients. Moreover, as technology is advancing and new products are being introduced in the market on a regular basis, special training programs are also organized to provide information about new types of equipment, their specific features, and use. Managers who are responsible for purchasing equipment for hospitals, diagnostic centers, and clinics undergo such programs to keep themselves up dated about the new developments in patient moving and handling equipment market.
These training programs provide training as per the regulations and standards set up by the government institutions such as Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), and many others. For example, the maximum recommended weight limit for most patient-lifting tasks is 35 pounds according to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. This means that most of the tasks which involve manual moving or lifting of patients are unsafe, especially if the patient is unable to bear his or her own weight. These programs are essential for staff as a few studies have shown that the single greatest risk factor for overexertion injuries in healthcare workers in moving and repositioning of patients, manual lifting, and manual patient handlings. Within the healthcare industry, nurses and staff involved in patient handling suffer from most lost-time cases of general musculoskeletal pain and back pain according to the report published by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The prevalence of musculoskeletal injuries has compounded the current nursing shortage and has resulted in rise in worker's compensation payouts. Rising obesity rate globally is increasing the physical demands on caregivers making proper training which teaches appropriate techniques for handling patients essential to reduce the number of occupational diseases.
The planned programs also help the staff to learn about algorithm which provides a standardized practice pathway for each task to be performed in a particular manner, prompting questions and responses regarding the number of caregivers needed and the type of equipment to be used to perform any task safely. For instance, according to the algorithm by Department of Veterans Affairs, transferring a bariatric patient from bed to a chair and vice versa requires three caregivers and a lift with a full body sling, especially if the patient is unable to bear weight himself and is completely uncooperative. All these protocols delineate the responsibility for the patient assessment and care plan.
Right amount of care and proper treatment is the need of every patient visiting a hospital. Patient moving and handling equipment improve the care and comfort provided and reduce the risk of injuries with falling or morbidity. Similarly, the staff of any place looks for physical good working conditions as per regulations and patient moving and handling equipment improve the quality of the healthcare professionals' work life by reducing occupational musculoskeletal pains, caused by lifting and moving patients as part of the care.