Posted February 23, 2023
  • | Safe Patient Handling

How Education Helps in Implementing a Safe Patient Handling Program

This blog post is based on Episode 3 of the EHOB No Pressure Podcast, featuring guest Kelly Moed, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, CSPHP. To hear this episode or explore others, click here.

If you’re a clinician who’s explored the safe patient handling movement, you might be excited about establishing a safe patient handling program at your facility. After all, who wouldn’t want to improve outcomes for patients, healthcare workers, and leadership? But a safe patient handling program can’t get off the ground without support from across your organization.

Kelly Moed, MSN, RN, NPD-BC, CSPHP, helps facilities establish safe patient handling programs, and she knows that education is a crucial first step in the process. 

She shares helpful advice for healthcare workers looking to build support for a safe patient handling program at their facility.

Speak to your colleagues in their language about safe patient handling.

Stakeholders across your healthcare organization will have varying opinions about the value of implementing a safe patient handling program.

To gain buy-in for your proposed program, speak to each colleague about the issues that resonate. Moed suggests you craft your safe patient handling pitch to align with each person’s motivations and fears.

“Do they respond to money – your CFO? You have to pull your worker’s comp data and say, ‘Hey, we’re losing all this money out the backdoor because staff is getting injured. And you know what? It’s preventable,’” she says.

If you have a clinician that’s concerned about mobility, focus on patient outcomes, “Say, ‘Hey, you know, safe patient handling and mobility [gets] our patients up and moving sooner. So that means better outcomes, safer patients, a decrease in falls.” 

Perhaps you have a CNO who’s worried about staff retention and recruitment. Moed’s pitch to these colleagues is, “If your staff feels that they’re working in a safe place, they feel cared for. Your staff needs to feel the love.”

Safe patient handling education is crucial.

Moed notes that education is vital because there are many incorrect assumptions underlying healthcare professionals’ hesitancy to establish safe patient handling programs.

She says, “The clinicians don’t know what they don’t know. And the management, same thing. If they [write] off the cost of doing business with all the dissociated dollars, whether it’s workers comp or medical costs or having to replace a worker.”

Moed says it’s up to you to teach them that another way is possible. She recommends the Institute for Healthcare Improvement resources page and its ‘Safer Together’ whitepaper, which advocates for interprofessional training.

“If [healthcare workers] start to look at these things, [they] realize it makes sense to start to infuse devices and some training into the facility and watch the trends,” she says.

Create a safe patient handling advocacy team.

Once you’ve assembled a network of safe patient handling supporters within your healthcare facility, Moed suggests formalizing this group into an advocacy team.

Cross-functional teams help ensure your message spreads throughout the organization and can be helpful when it’s time for you to begin the nuts-and-bolts work of building out your safe patient handling program.

“You want clinical people, the highest leadership in nursing, some middle management; you want to have your employee health so that they could recognize this is a workforce safety issue,” she says.

“You need to have human resources so they could pull all the data, your worker’s comp people so they can start looking at injury trends, and procurement people that are in charge of purchasing equipment,” Moed adds.

Review current patient handling processes and look for trends.

Once you’re ready to create your formal safe patient handling program, it’s important to start by assessing where you are right now.

Moed says that when she begins consulting with a facility on its safe patient handling program, “We look at the current process, we find out what the trends are, we take that data.”

From there, you can begin to implement small but meaningful changes for your team and patients.

It’s ok to start small.

When it comes to safe patient handling programs, little adjustments can make a big difference. If your facility isn’t ready to invest in lifts and heavy-duty equipment immediately, Moed encourages you to start with small investments.

She offers the example of addressing injuries that result from boosting and repositioning patients in bed. Clinicians are frequently injured from this repetitive task, and while lifts are a viable option to help ease the physical burden on staff, starting with a simple draw sheet can also make a significant impact.

Moed reminds us that most clinician injuries result from repetitive motions. If you can make each individual movement a little less stressful on the body – by, say, introducing a draw sheet to reduce friction – it has a positive cumulative effect.

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 3 of the EHOB No Pressure Podcast. To hear the podcast, click here.