Patient handling without the benefit of medical ergonomic devices is a primary cause of musculoskeletal injuries to health care workers in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and other medical practices. Lifting and moving patients involve awkward motions like leaning, stretching and rotating. Repeated, these movements can cause damage to necks, backs and shoulders which translates into lost financial and human resources for employers.
Ergonomic medical devices for patient handling include lifts, lateral transfers and aids for ambulations, repositions and manipulations. These products allow health care workers to remain in neutral body positions and avoid injury. Before purchasing medical ergonomic products consider the following:
1. Observe employees to identify activities placing them at risk for injury and in need of medical ergonomic equipment.
2. Query employees about which tasks would benefit from ergonomic medical equipment.
3. Review personnel records to determine which activities have resulted in the most injuries and require medical ergonomic devices.
4. Ask ergonomic medical products manufacturers to provide selected ergonomic medical equipment for a risk-free one month trial period.
Locate medical ergonomic equipment for lifting patientsThis medical ergonomic equipment comes in several varieties. Total-body devices move patients who are completely dependent. Stand-assist devices help patients who have partial upper body strength. Compact devices are used in home care and medical offices and to move patients to and from vehicles. Ambulation lifts support a patient while walking. Bathtub or shower lifts transport the patient from the bed or chair to the bath and back.
Find medical ergonomic equipment for lateral transfersThese ergonomic medical supplies are simple devices used to transfer patients from one flat surface to another, like a cot to an examining table. Examples include transfer boards, draw and slippery sheets, gurneys with connected slide boards, and transfer mats and slings.
Identify ergonomic medical products to aid patient ambulation, reposition and manipulationThese include fixtures and stands, gait belts, hand blocks, lift-type ergonomic medical chairs, lift cushions, pivot discs, push-up bars, range of motion machines and trapeze bars.
- Ask your ergonomic medical product manufacturer to provide a consultation, facility evaluation and product training. Many will do so at no charge.
- Inquire about used and refurbished ergonomic medical equipment. It's a great way to contain costs.
- Include employees in the selection of ergonomic medical products. This will enhance their receptivity to usage.
- Follow up with employees to ensure they are using medical ergonomic products correctly. Ask your ergonomic medical product manufacturer to provide periodic inservices to retrain employees and acquaint them with options for new ergonomic medical equipment.