Posted January 4, 2023
  • | Patient Outcomes
  • | Safe Patient Handling

5 Reasons to Implement Safe Patient Handling Practices at Your Facility

This blog post is based on Episode 1 of the EHOB No Pressure Podcast, featuring guest Kelly Moed, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, CSPHP. To hear this episode or explore others, click here.

All healthcare facilities–from hospitals to rehabilitation centers to long-term care facilities–require clinical staff to interact physically with patients. Lifting, turning and repositioning patients is part of a nurse’s daily routine, but when not handled properly, these moves can have damaging effects for all parties involved.

The safe patient handling movement advocates envision a world that’s safer and healthier for everyone. With proper safe patient handling policies in place, staff suffers fewer injuries, facilities accrue fewer costs, and patients achieve better outcomes.

What can you achieve by implementing safe patient handling tools and techniques at your facility? We’re so glad you asked!

1. Save on worker’s compensation and PTO

On an average shift, a single nurse can lift 1.8 tons. Repetitive lifting without proper safe patient handling tools and techniques can lead to acute injury and long-term physical issues for your team.

From sprains and strains to nerve and disc issues and musculoskeletal disorders, the list of potential health issues that can be caused by improper patient handling is staggering.

And with these injuries come costs to your team and your facility. 

Typically, facilities cover paid time off for injured team members and are responsible for any medical costs and workers’ compensation claims associated with their treatment and lost income.

If you find yourself short-staffed as a result of these injuries, you may have to bring in expensive traveling nurses to ensure you have enough bodies on the floor for a given shift.

While there is an upfront cost associated with purchasing safe patient handling devices, it pales in comparison to the costs of injured nurses who are unable to return to work.

2. Retain your staff

Injuries sideline dedicated nurses. In an industry that’s already experiencing troubling shortages, we can’t afford to lose dedicated professionals to unnecessary injuries.

Keeping your nurses happy and healthy is beneficial for all involved. Nurses get to continue doing the work they love, patients benefit from long-tenured nurses’ expertise and knowledge, and your facility can attract the next generation of talent who wants to work for an organization that looks out for its team.

3. Keep your staff safe and healthy

Did you know that the maximum weight a nurse should lift at one time is 35 pounds? That means that, in an ideal world, a 120-pound patient will have four team members to lift or reposition them.

Anyone who’s worked on the floor of a busy facility knows this perfect scenario doesn’t always exist. Nurses often risk a move on their own or justify it by reasoning that moving or repositioning one patient on their own isn’t a big deal.

The majority of staff injuries don’t happen as a result of one lift; it’s the repetition. Even if a nurse only moves a patient on their own a few times a shift, that adds up over days and weeks. Remember, most nurses are lifting 1.8 tons per shift. If they’re lifting 10 percent of that weight on their own, it means they’re lifting hundreds of pounds alone every week.

Providing your team with the tools and training they need to make more ergonomically correct movements can save your staff from being sidelined. Without nurses, you don’t have a facility. Nurses give their all to patients every day; they deserve that same kind of care in return.

4. Reduce hiring and training costs

Losing nurses to injury or burnout is troubling for all parties. Nurses are passionate about helping others, and when they are no longer physically or emotionally able to function in their role, it can be devastating.

When seasoned nurses leave, you don’t just lose their physical presence on the floor. Their institutional knowledge and expertise go with them. Facilities must then invest untold resources in training and education with each new round of hires. The more individuals that leave due to injury, the greater that reinvestment becomes.

Why not invest in safe patient handling tools and training instead? That investment helps your staff learn what they need to do to stay safe at work–an investment that pays dividends in the years of service they give to your organization.

5. Improve patient outcomes

Safe patient handling has incredible benefits for your team and organization, but it also serves the people you’re all there to help: your patients.

That’s not all. It also helps serve your mission of providing exemplary patient outcomes. 

Research has shown that safe patient handling mobility programs help prevent falls and increase patients’ strength and mobility. Providing exemplary patient outcomes is beneficial all around. Of course, it is meaningful to the patients that you help on an individual level. But it also helps improve your facility’s reputation and standing and reduces costs associated with patient injuries.

Any tool or approach that can help improve outcomes for your team, your facility and your patients is worth a closer look. That’s why we’re so passionate about giving a voice to the safe patient handling movement. CLICK HERE to learn more about EHOB’s solutions that help your team lift, turn and reposition patients more safely.

Did you enjoy this blog? It is based on our conversation with Kelly Moed, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, CSPHP, from Episode 1 of the EHOB No Pressure Podcast. To hear the podcast, click here.