In a 900 bed Medical Center, two nurse managers from different units discovered a need to address employee injuries related to patient handling on their units. Both nurse managers researched a variety of options while both concluded that purchasing mechanical ceiling-lifts to lift their patients provided the best option. The manager from the first nursing unit decided to contact Vendor A to set-up a demonstration / in-service for her staff. The manager from the second unit also contacted a ceiling-lift company for the same purposes which happened to be a different vendor, Vendor B. While both managers and their employees were pleased with the products and demonstrations, the procurement process was initiated leaving both managers feeling a sense of relief that their employee injury issue had been resolved.
- Whereas purchasing equipment interdepartmentally was a common practice within the Medical Center, one procurement analyst began to question why similar products (ceiling-lifts) were being purchased from two separate vendors at very significant prices.
- Both managers presented feedback consistent with why they had chosen each Vendor, making the case for why their selected vendors would be able to effectively address their employee injury challenges.
- The procurement analysts suggested that both managers come together to decide on one of the two offerings making it more cost effective for the facility.
- The procurement process was put on hold until both nurse managers could reach an agreement as staff continued to perform patient-care tasks that presented significant risks for musculoskeletal injuries.
Purchasing overhead ceiling lifts to address safe patient handling needs is a process that expands beyond the initial purchase of equipment. There are many moving parts that must be coordinated correctly if the facility is to achieve the cost-effective outcomes it is looking for. For one, there must be a collaboration between ceiling lift installers and the facilities management department. The vendor will need an understanding of the building’s structural limitations to safely install ceiling-lift equipment. After equipment is installed, the need for sling accessories must be decided. Numbers as well as disposable versus reusable slings should be taken into consideration for which those decisions are usually specific to the facility and its logistics. Additionally, should reusable products be chosen, laundering processes are simplified when the product is from one particular vender opposed to two or more. Equipment maintenance, infection control policies, and hospital standards and regulations must all be considered to ensure optimal returns on patient-lift equipment investments. Purchasing safe patient handling equipment is more efficient when procurement processes are led by a subject matter expert capable of providing the necessary guidance.
The purchase of overhead ceiling lifts was postponed due to the inability of the nurse managers to agree on which product to choose. Though they were sure of the outcomes they were looking for, their lack of understanding for the accompanying details became somewhat discouraging and overwhelming. Both agreed that they would continue to research for more information. However, other patient-care priorities took the place of on-going initiatives to protect employees from injuries.