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What is a safe patient handling program?

A safe patient handling program involves identifying all areas of a health care facility where staff regularly assists patients with mobilization, assessing equipment needs, selecting and purchasing the best equipment to fit patient and staff needs, and most importantly, training staff to use and rely on the equipment for all patient lifting, transferring, and repositioning.

Sonora Regional Medical Center has invested in top of the line patient mobilization equipment as well as extensive staff training. Rather than manually lifting or repositioning patients, employees are required to use a sling device to mechanically move patients, which increases safety for both the patient and the employee.

The new equipment is far superior to older devices, which were uncomfortable for patients and often intimidating for staff to use. The new equipment is quiet and smooth to operate and the sling is like a comfortable hammock or cocoon for the patient. Once the patient is comfortably sitting in the sling and lifted up, the patient can then be safely wheeled to bed, to a chair, to the commode, or other location and specialized equipment can also be used to assist patients in rehabilitation. It is instinctual for nurses to want to help patients up. This equipment allows nurses to help their patients without risking back, shoulder or other musculoskeletal injuries.

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