As we embark on another
Patient Safety Awareness Week (March 8 – 14), all of us at ATLAS want to thank the team at NPR for their recent multi-part podcast series Injured Nurses, which brings forward a long-standing problem in our healthcare industry. In addition to exposing numerous heart-wrenching narratives surrounding too many injured caregivers nation-wide, the 4th podcast articulated examples of effective
Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPHM) programs in action.
I admit it upfront, I’m bias. While my ATLAS colleagues and I realize the anguish that thousands of care providers experience regarding hazardous work environments, we personally observe a tremendous amount of progress through our customer’s own “hands.”
Nevertheless it’s true. The figures surrounding patient-related, hospital worker injury remain troublesome. Per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 52% of nursing professionals complain of chronic back pain, 39% fear back injury, 38% suffer back injuries requiring days off, and 20% transfer to other departments to decrease lifting actions. Sadly, 12% exit the profession early.
Today we know from the work of authors and scientists such as Audrey Nelson, William Charney, Mary Matz, Tom Waters, and Bill Marras, that there is no safe way to lift more than 35 pounds in the healthcare setting without incurring vertebral end plate micro-fractures when caregivers exceed this limit over time. This research has led to increased interest in ways to promote patient safety while protecting care providers from serious injury during patient handling and moving activities.
Throughout the past decade, rapid advancements in safe patient handling and mobility equipment, procedures and techniques have been achieved. In 2013, The American Nurses Association published the all-new SPHM Interprofessional Standards, and shortly thereafter the ANA SPHM Implementation Guide was published, providing the initiative for the introduction of a national bill. And a number of states have initiated SPHM legislation or resolutions.
This is good news for healthcare professionals, patients and administrators alike.
There is more good news. A recent case study, co-developed between Stanford’s renowned,
Risk Authority and
ATLAS Lift Tech reveals compelling evidence that SPHM programs enhance patient safety while preventing employee injury.
The study’s abstract cites that, the transport, transfer, adjustment, and general handling of hospital patients accounts for one of the most significant injury risks for healthcare workers. This is true for the general population of patients and even more so for bariatric patients. Safe Patient Handling Programs are increasingly becoming the norm for hospitals and long term care facilities. The use of lifting, transferring, and mobilizing equipment is mandated in many states in order to protect both the healthcare workers and the patients from injury due to manual lifting.
The abstract continues with,
the experience with such programs for many healthcare facilities presents a cautionary tale of great promise of benefit and very difficult delivery of same. This is a major culture change for nurses and other healthcare employees. The scenario goes something like this: Everyone (or nearly everyone) is delighted with the idea and seems eager to move forward with it. Equipment is purchased and everyone is trained to some extent on how to use it. The news of the program is presented to the public with ribbon cutting or similar fanfare. Soon thereafter it becomes clear that there were several things that were not considered such as laundry for the slings, who repairs the lifts, where IS the lift, where are the repo sheets. These oversights are soon followed by, “it takes too long”, “this isn’t working”, “I liked the old way”, and so on.
Preventing this decline in the program requires dedicated “champions”. They must be able to assist other personnel with patient handling tasks, have a thorough working knowledge of all the lift equipment, and can provide the training or retraining so necessary as care givers encounter issues that were not covered in the first round of training.
The report concludes that,
at Stanford Hospital and Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital we’re moving to the “lift coach” model to provide these things. This presentation describes the model and offers data on our experience over the past year. We believe this to be the best and most workable solution for culture change and successful Safe Patient Handling Program implementation. The presentation includes a unique Return On Investment calculation that we believe will be of great interest.
Part of my job is to actively participate in new-customer kickoff events for the SPHM programs. Each event continuously reinforces with me the critical importance of sharing best practices surrounding safe patient handing and mobility. During each kickoff, every participant is genuinely appreciative of the concepts and the premise that a well executed lift coach program will ensure the safety of their patients while at the same time reducing the risk of their own injury. And with executive-level buy in, these caregivers know that their organization will realize dramatic reductions in safety incidents as well as lower caregiver absenteeism and turnover. The end result is a significant positive impact to the hospital’s bottom line.
However, collectively we are still far from the finish-line; which often seems to keep moving due to the vast complexities and dynamics of our healthcare system. Complexities and finish-lines aside, ATLAS’ on-going purpose is to lower provider injury rates, improve patient safety, reduce costs and produce a thriving and sustainable culture of safety nation-wide.
For more information on implementing a SPHM program, watch these videos (links on the right) from Stanford Hospital and Clinics regarding how they moved their program forward in a practical, effective manner.
Please share your story with us and how we can work together to spread the awareness about these challenges.
Go to the NPR Postcasts [+]
Go to ATLAS InfoCenter [+]
More about Shannon [+]
A New Model for Successful Safe Patient Handling Programs.
Building a Safe Patient Handling Program
Safe Patient Handing: Implementing Your Program - YouTube [+]
Industry Best Practice
Safe Patient Handling: The Lift Coach Model - YouTube [+]