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Five Myths About Manual Patient Handling

22 Jan 2019

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are one of the leading causes of injury in the health care field. These injuries occur in large part due to overexertion related to repeated manual patient handling activities, often involving heavy manual lifting associated with transferring and repositioning patients and working in awkward postures.

The consequences of work-related MSDs are substantial—these injuries are costly in terms of medical expenses, absenteeism, and turnover.

However, work-related MSDs can be prevented. Safe patient handling programmes reduce the risk of injury for both health care workers and patients while improving the quality of patient care. One of the challenges that employers face when implementing a safe patient handling programme is overcoming misconceptions about patient handling practices. To help separate fact from fiction, here are some common myths surrounding patient handling.

Safe Patient Handling: Myth vs. Reality

Myth #1: Mechanical lifting is not as safe and comfortable for patients as manual lifting.

Reality: Once patients realise the ease and comfort of modern mechanical lifts, they will be more likely to accept them. Mechanical lifts are safer for both patients and health care workers.

Myth #2: Training and use of proper body mechanics (including the use of back belts) is effective in preventing job-related injuries.

Reality: Research shows that relying on ‘proper’ body mechanics is not, by itself, an effective way to prevent injuries. There is no such thing as 100 percent safe manual lifting of a patient.

Myth #3: You do not need to worry about patient-handling injuries if your workers are healthy and have never had problems.

Reality: Manual lifting can cause micro-injuries to the spine. Although workers may not feel the effects immediately, cumulative micro-injuries can result in a debilitating injury. Good health and strength may actually put workers at increased risk because their peers are much more likely to seek their assistance when manually lifting patients.

Myth #4: It is much faster to manually move patients.

Reality: If equipment is located conveniently, accessing it will not take a long time. It is often more time-consuming to round up a team of workers to manually lift a patient than to get safe patient handling equipment.

Myth #5: Manual lifting is less expensive than mechanical lifting.

Reality: Research shows that the use of assistive technology, such as mechanical lifts, reduces injuries to workers and lowers costs associated with medical expenses, lost productivity and employee turnover.

We are Johnston Park McAndrew –Your Advice Led Commercial Insurance Broker

Author: Heather Adams
Credits: "Five Myths About Manual Patient Handling" (Zywave, inc. 2018)

The content of this Risk Insights is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. Design © 2014 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.

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