Long Term Care Solutions

At Prism Medical we think it is impossible to overstate the importance of having a well-designed safe patient handling program in your institution or health care facility. Health care professionals suffer from a higher injury rate than truck drivers and construction workers. 12% of nurses leave the profession because of back injury, while 52% complain of chronic back pain – both leading contributors to mid-career departure. This high rate of injury explains why more and more nurses, occupational therapists, other front-line health care workers and their professional associations are demanding their workplaces implement a safe patient handling program.

Nobody wants health care workers injured from moving and handling their clients, but that is the result too many long-term care facilities and hospitals achieve. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, over 60% of nursing strain and sprain injuries are the result of unsafe patient moving and handling.

Absence of a Safe Patient Handling Program equals Higher Incidence of Injury

In 2004, the National Organization of Nurse Executives reported 31% of registered nurses had experienced a work-related back or musculoskeletal injury in the past year.

These injuries take a huge toll not only on the careers of injured nurses, occupational therapists and physical therapists, but on the health care facilities and institutions that employ them. A facility which hasn’t implemented a program to handle its clients safely and with dignity risks increased costs, from compensation to insurance premiums and the expenses associated with medical treatment.

Indirect Costs

Injuries also result in indirect costs. These include replacing skilled employees, training and supervising new employees, lowered staff morale and the adverse effects of breaking up long-standing work teams.

Staff injuries mean a heavier work-load for administrative staff and increase the amount of overtime a facility needs to allocate to cover for injured employees.

Lowered Workman’s Compensations Claims

According to the Fraser Health Authority in British Columbia, the institutional use of lift equipment and the introduction of Safe Patient Handling practices are proven to decrease the overall number of worker’s compensation claims by 46%, the costs associated with that compensation decreases by 80%, and the total number of days lost decreases by 80%.

Direct Financial Benefit

The proper use of patient lifting, handling and transfer techniques, combined with the right equipment, properly installed, has direct financial benefits as well. A cost-benefit analysis performed by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs showed the net benefit from the lowered incidence and severity of injuries and decreased workers’ compensation claims was $200,000 per year. This same study also found that the payback period for an initial investment in patient handling equipment was 4.3 years.

Health care professionals understand it is not enough to have the right lifting and re-positioning equipment. Staff must be trained to use that equipment properly. And not having a well-designed moving and handling and repositioning program in place is the same as having a program intentionally designed to increase back and other musculoskeletal injuries. And if your facility or institution is considering implementing a safe patient handling program, or updating what is already in place, contact Prism Medical. Because nobody understands safe patient handling better than Prism Medical.