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:
- Set goals that include worker safety. Most hospitals already have safety goals, but the safe patient handling leaders include worker safety in their goals and measure whether they are meeting them.
- Track the success of your program. Examine the number and type of patient handling injuries, the root causes that led to these injuries, the number of lost work or modified duty days, and more types of
program measures. You can also assess the efficacy of your safe patient handling policies. These data can also help you identify opportunities for improvement.
- Analyze lagging and leading indicators. Lagging
indicators are looking in the rear-view mirror to see what happened over a previous period of time. Leading indicators are forward-looking predictive results. If a program is designed well and implemented effectively, improvements in leading
indicators should predict improvement in lagging indicators next time they are checked.
- Lagging indicators include: staff turnover rates and staff lost-time and injury rates related to SPH.
- Leading indicators include: Peer leaders per unit and SPH handling devices available per patient.
- Share results with your employees. Sharing safety trend data creates motivation and instills pride (and competition) among units to achieve success.
- Gather feedback from staff who handle patients. Realize that every program will need adjustments after being put into practice. Even small changes can improve the use of equipment and worker engagement
The final step, evaluating outcomes, includes the following:
- Re-evaluate elements of assessment. Monitor injury data on a monthly basis by using the components of assessment phase. Identify improvements and areas that continue to have
patient-handling injuries. Modify the program, if needed.
- Check employee satisfaction. Obtain employee feedback regarding implementation of the program. Encourage employees to report any injury in a non-punitive environment.
- Note the employee turnover rate. Meet with Human Resources to determine an appropriate interval to reassess the employee turnover rate and ensure the program is included as an
employee benefit during recruitment activities.
- Determine patient satisfaction. Develop a tool to evaluate patient and family response to patient handling with assistive devices while hospitalized and as part of a post-hospitalization
patient satisfaction survey.
- Review the program annually for its accomplishments, and set goals for the upcoming year. Modify the program an indicated.
- Report successes or challenges to management and staff.
- Stay the course!
Safe Patient Handling Cost Savings Click to Enlarge
Investments in Safe Patient Handling
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.
Reducing Employee Injuries
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.
Implementation to Achieve Full Benefits
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:
- a comprehensive assessment of the nature of patient and worker needs
- full support from administration and key managers
- employee involvement
- policies that encourage the safest techniques for handling patients
- the right amount of equipment that is right for the job
- adequate, convenient storage and maintenance of equipment
- education and training
- ongoing evaluation and improvement
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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