By establishing evaluation procedures and a process for enhancing your safe patient handling program, you can periodically assess the effectiveness of your hospital's efforts and ensure continuous safe patient handling improvement and long-term success.
A few evaluation steps to consider:
The final step, evaluating outcomes, includes the following:
Investments in safe patient handling can include permanent or portable lifts, transfer sheets and other equipment, training on equipment use and maintenance, implementation of a “minimal lift” policy that eliminates manual handling whenever possible, and/or a dedicated “lift team” that travels through the hospital moving patients with proper equipment.
While the costs for instituting such programs can be significant, several studies have shown that the initial capital investment in safe patient handling policies, programs, and equipment can be recovered in fewer than five years.
The map to the right shows some examples reported from safe patient handling case studies across the United States.
Hospitals with successful safe patient handling programs have found they can significantly reduce the number of employee injuries and lost work days from injuries.
For example, injury rates were significantly lower after safe patient handling programs were introduced in 23 high-risk units across seven Southeast Veterans Health Administration facilities. The injury rate fell from 24.0 per 100 workers per year to 16.9, a 30 percent reduction.
Safe patient handling has been associated with not only fewer injuries but also a decrease in the severity of injuries.
Careful implementation is required to achieve the full benefits of safe patient handling programs.
These are just a few of the business reasons to invest in safe patient handling solutions to ensure that patients are handled with care and dignity. Overwhelming evidence suggests not only that safe patient handling is a wise investment that can reduce worker injuries, but that having policies, procedures, and products that enhance safe patient handling can be good for a hospital’s bottom line. To achieve the fullest possible benefit, however, hospitals need to consider more than just what type of equipment to buy.
Successful safe patient handling programs also involve:
Without the components above, your hospital’s culture may not be ready to embrace the new program, putting your investment at risk.
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