Safe Patient Handling Equipment

Having a successful safe patient handling program means more than owning equipment: it means having the right amount of equipment that is right for the job and easily accessible to workers when they need it. Here are some ways to get the right equipment for your hospital:

Profile: Tampa General Hospital Takes a Load off Caregivers' Backs
Tampa, Florida

Before Tampa General initiated its safe patient handling program, the hospital only had one operable floor lift available. To allow caregivers to focus on their other patient responsibilities when it added lifts in every department, Tampa General hired and trained lift teams—two-person teams who specialize in using equipment to lift and transfer patients. Some lift teams are scheduled for specific units, working their way through the unit repositioning patients; others are available on demand, carrying wireless tablet computers to receive and prioritize lift requests throughout the hospital.

The lift team members are responsible for the evaluation, maintenance, cleaning, and inventory of all patient lifting and transfer equipment.

  • Involve your front-line staff in testing and selecting equipment. The people who actually move patients are a valuable resource when determining the equipment most appropriate to each unit.
  • Choose equipment based on the specific lifting, transfer, and movement needs of each unit and patient population.
  • Make sure the equipment is conveniently located, readily available, and accessible so that staff can use it without keeping patients waiting or delaying other tasks.
  • Put systems in place to ensure that mechanical equipment is maintained and supplies such as slings and transfer sheets are kept clean and stocked. Staff cannot use mechanical equipment if it is broken or not charged. Further, equipment that has not been maintained properly could result in injuries to both caregivers and patients.
  • Consider partnering with an equipment vendor. Vendors can help you develop your safe handling program, host equipment fairs, troubleshoot issues, answer questions, and maintain and replace equipment.
  • Design with safe patient handling in mind during construction and remodeling. It is easier and more cost-effective than retrofitting. In Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards, the American Nurses Association recommends that hospitals incorporate ergonomic design principles to provide a safe environment of care.

The following resources will help you identify the right equipment for your hospital: