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A key component to a safe patient handling policy is having the right equipment to assist health care providers in mobilizing patients and ensuring workers use it, experts say.
Establishing a successful program requires looking at injury data to see who has been injured and how the injuries occurred, and identifying and procuring assistive devices for employees to use instead of manual lifting, said Mitchel Rosen, director of the Center for Public Health Workforce Development at New Brunswick, New Jersey-based Rutgers University.
Julie Landis, vice president of business development at Centennial, Colorado-based Briotix Health LP, and her staff targeted six hospitals in a large hospital system that didn’t have any safe patient handling programs in place to assess what equipment was available, procure what was needed and embed staff to coach employees on mobility best practices.
Most health care systems will see a 20% to 30% drop in workers comp claims after successfully implementing a handling program, but it is critical to ensure that the health care company has the right equipment, that it is accessible and that employees know how to use the equipment, Ms. Landis said.
Shawna Willcox, assistant vice president for clinical risk management of Western Litigation Inc., a division of Itasca, Illinois-based Arthur J. Gallagher Risk Management Services Inc., said she has seen a lot of success among health care organizations who use front-line staff as champions of the devices.
“If you can have employees say, ‘Using these devices has made my life easier, reduced my strain and my chance of injury’ to other employees, it’s a big success,” Ms. Willcox said.
Nurses, aides, orderlies and therapists have some of the highest numbers of nonfatal occupational injuries, many of which are musculoskeletal injuries arising from unsafe patient handling, experts say.