A written policy facilitates complete implementation and sustained success of a safe patient handling program. Consistent management leadership can "set the tone" and make safe patient handling a visible priority.
A program is more likely to be successful if nurse managers and frontline staff are involved early in the development of the program.
For more help in designing, developing, and deploying an effective Safe Patient Handling Program, see the following resources:
Safe patient handling policies establish expectations that staff will use the safest techniques to accomplish patient handling tasks, and that administrators will provide equipment and resources to support staff efforts. In addition, proper training on equipment use is necessary, as are accountability and a commitment to the overall culture of safety.
Safe patient handling policies should:
Once you have assessed the need for a safe patient handling program, it is now time to start planning ways to implement it.
Developing a plan includes:
First, to get ideas for your program, look at various sample program models. Consider various levels of intervention, including the costs for human resources, training, equipment, and potential injury reduction.
Next, determine the methods for safe patient handling, and the best method to implement and maintain the program within the facility. For example, will each caregiver be responsible for their own patients, or will each individual department use its own safe lifting team? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each option?
Next, you will need to develop a policy on safe patient handling based on the model adopted and then make a case to administration for implementation of the program.
XYZ Health System facilitates a culture of safety by providing patient handling equipment, program elements to support the use of equipment, employee training and the infrastructure to support the Safe Patient Handling program.
Once the data is analyzed, an executive summary and report need to be prepared for administrative review. The report should include:
A major step in creating a safe patient handling program is the actual implementation. Complete the following actions when implementing the SPH program:
Remember, the program is designed to target a change in the organization's culture and individual human behavior. This sample checklist highlights many of the important components of a safe patient handling program or policy, including development, management and staff involvement, needs assessments, equipment, education and training, and evaluation.
Establishing and maintaining a successful safe patient handling program will likely require a culture change throughout the hospital. The American Nurses Association (ANA) recommends employers and healthcare workers partner to establish a culture which emphasizes safety as the top priority above competing goals.
According to ANA's standards, a culture of safety includes:
Principles that go beyond equipment and procedures help create a prevention-based culture of safety, and in turn benefit patient safety as well.
Modeling safe patient handling behaviors is key to facilitating change. Along with overall safety coordinators, the dedicated safety champions or “coaches” on each floor or unit to encourage their colleagues to follow safe patient handling policies and procedures. These individuals continually remind and educate their peers about the program and promote a cultural mindset of safety. Nurse managers also can help to support and reinforce the program with staff.
Training and education are critical to the success of any safe patient handling program, especially training on proper patient handling equipment use and ongoing education about the benefits of safe patient handling.
By educating all staff, including physicians, about your safe patient handling program, hospitals can reduce instances of a clinician asking or expecting colleagues to move patients in an unsafe way.
Training can range from onsite demonstrations of equipment use and maintenance to broader safe patient handling education programs and national conferences.
The following are some ideas for a comprehensive approach to safe patient handling education and training:
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