Education and Training

Training and education are critical to the success of any safe patient handling program, especially training on proper patient handling equipment use and ongoing education about the benefits of safe patient handling. By educating all staff, including physicians, about your safe patient handling program, hospitals can reduce instances of a clinician asking or expecting colleagues to move patients in an unsafe way.

Training can range from onsite demonstrations of equipment use and maintenance to broader safe patient handling education programs and national conferences. The following are some ideas for a comprehensive approach to safe patient handling education and training:

  • Make sure that all relevant workers are trained on using the mechanical lift equipment. Caregivers should feel comfortable using the equipment. If the caregiver uses the equipment correctly and efficiently, patients will feel more comfortable too.
  • Refresh, remind, and require ongoing training. Programs tend to be less successful over time if they do not receive adequate attention. Including safe patient handling procedures and policies in annual competency sessions is one way to remind workers of the program's importance and promote equipment proficiency. In Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards, the American Nurses Association recommends that hospitals establish systems for education, training, and maintaining competencies.
  • Consider mentors and peer education champions. In addition to monitoring new employees, nurse managers and other "safety champions" can serve as mentors and peer coaches in every unit, reminding their colleagues how and when to use safe patient handling procedures and equipment.
  • Train caregivers to check each patient's mobility every time. Every patient has unique characteristics and mobility capabilities. It is important to assess these regularly, and to communicate each patient's level of mobility and need for assistance to all relevant caregivers.
  • Engage patients and their families. Patients may not understand the need for mechanical equipment at first. You can engage them in safe handling by explaining to them and their families that it is for their safety as well as the workers' safety. OSHA has developed a patient education poster that hospitals can use to promote the use of safe patient handling equipment.

Read more about safe patient handling education and training:

  • In 2010, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health created a Web-based training presentation and CD-ROM titled "Safe Patient Handling Training for Schools of Nursing." This material, developed by cooperative effort among the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Veterans Health Administration, and the American Nurses Association, helps instructors design training programs that encourage the use of safe approaches to handling patients and contribute to the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders.
  • The Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA) created a Tool Kit for Hospital Staff on safe patient handling that includes a number of educational materials for families and patients and a "Safe Patient Moving SuperUser Training" presentation. Hospitals can download the MHA Road Map to a Comprehensive Safe Patient Handling Program and use the materials provided for their own training, as long as they cite MHA.