Safe Patient Handling and Movement programs hold promise to reduce patient and caregiver injury, and provide significant cost savings to healthcare organizations.
But why is this an issue?
And how do health facilities ensure that their program will be a success?
What is Safe Patient Handling and Movement?
For those unfamiliar with the concept, Safe Patient Handling and Movement (or SPHM) can be understood as an evidence-based discipline focused on safely moving patients in all healthcare settings in ways which minimize potential injuries to both patients and caregivers.
Why is Patient Handling an issue?
Patient handling can be hazardous for patients and caregivers alike. As obesity reaches epidemic proportions in the patient population, and the nursing shortage worsens, the severity of risks related to patient handling increase exponentially.
The biomechanics of patient handling injuries is well described; however, many people are unaware of the magnitude of the problem.
Consider these facts:
- 6 of the top 10 most dangerous occupations for musculoskeletal injury are in the hospital setting.
- 52% of all nurses complain of chronic back pain.
- 2 out of 5 nurses require time off from work due to back pain.
- 1 in 8 nurses permanently leave the profession due to back injury.
- Replacing each injured nurse costs health facilities on average $90,000 in recruitment and training costs.
- Back injuries cost the healthcare industry an estimated $20 billion annually, including for example, lost work days and workers compensation costs.
And it’s not just caregivers that are harmed by traditional lifting procedures – patients are also injured through drops, falls, and preventable pressure ulcers.
What’s the solution?
These realities have created dissatisfaction for everyone involved: patients, staff, and administrators, culminating in recent state and impending nationwide legislation that are driving hospitals towards the implementation of safe patient handling and movement programs.
As Dr. Susan Gallagher has noted, these programs are designed to “let nurses provide patient care, and let safe mechanical devices provide lifting.”
The implementation of successful safe patient handling and movement programs have saved facilities up to 95% reduction in lost work days, 65% reduction in claims, 89% reduction in average cost per injury and an 88% reduction in injury rate, saving several times the cost of their implementation and annual operation.
In part II and III of this series, we’ll discuss some of the essential elements for ensuring your program is successful, and look at how to formulate the ROI business case to get started.
Edward Hall, Jr., MS, CSP is Chief Operating Officer of The Risk Authority, and was responsible for the role out of Stanford Hospital & Clinics’ safe patient handling program, which received the “Best Practice Award” for safe patient handling, granted by the Office of Veterans Affairs and Administration and the University of South Florida.
Eric Race is Founder & CEO of Atlas Lift Tech, the Safe Patient Handling and Movement solutions provider for Stanford Hospital & Clinics. Atlas’ “Lift Coach” model and proprietary software systems have been integral to the success of Stanford’s safe patient handling program.