A small community hospital of 150 operating beds has recently experienced an increase in patient-lift incidents resulting in employee injuries over the past year and a half to include one high-profile incident which resulted in a patient injury. As part of the ongoing efforts to find a solution to this problem, in-depth analysis revealed that out of 150 operating beds, over 70% are consistently occupied by patients with very limited mobility requiring staff to have to concentrate more on performing the physical tasks associated with patient care. Meanwhile, as patient handling injuries continue to climb, nursing units have become more difficult to staff while nurse’s morale continues to decline.
- Operations manager purchased 3 portable lifts for staff to use to lift patients.
- A review of patient injury data was conducted.
- Administration initiated communication with the Nursing Department to gain a better understanding for why patient handling injuries were happening.
- Leaders began to consider the idea of bringing in an outside consultant for recommendations and feedback.
The Operations Manager brought in an outside Safe Patient Handling Consultant given that his initial attempts to resolve the organization’s patient handling challenges had made very little impact. The consultant was brought in to perform an injury prevention system assessment. Listed below were his recommendations:
- Implement a Comprehensive Safe Patient Handling Program.
- Purchase patient-lift equipment to adequately accommodate patient mobility challenges per patient census per nursing unit – Three portable lifts were hardly enough equipment to adequately address the organization’s systemic problem. Two of the three lifts that were purchased were not compatible with the nursing unit’s patient mobility challenges.
- Assign a Registered Nurse as the point-of-contact to oversee the initial program implementation process with the intent of making this point-of-contact the permanent Safe Patient Handling Coordinator – Establishing a point-of contact, particularly a Registered Nurse, provides a greater probability for the organization to create a successful Safe Patient Handling program. Thorough coordination of the organization’s clinical operational processes to include the staff responsible for performing those processes is essential. The consultant would serve as the mentor for the assigned personnel.
- Commit the financial resources necessary to develop a comprehensive program.
Many if not all recommendations were taken into consideration. The facility decided to hire the consultant for a 1 year period with the option to extend for a second year. During the 1st year, the organization in conjunction with the consultant’s feedback reached a decision to invest the necessary financial resources on the patient care unit with most patient handling injuries. The facility in-turn did see an 80% reduction in patient handling injuries for that unit over the first year totaling an estimated cost savings of around $100,000. After year one, the organization was faced with the decision for how they should proceed. They initially did not renew their consultant’s contract while patient handling injuries remained continuous on other patient care units throughout the organization.