October 2016 | By Shannon Coulter, Clinical Application Specialist
Wy’East Medical has been in the business of Safe Patient Handling (SPH) for more than 25 years. Over that time, we’ve had the opportunity to speak with many nurse leaders, SPH coordinators, and risk managers. Interestingly, we’ve learned a surprising lesson: In many hospital environments, more than 50% of caregiver injuries happen while boosting or positioning a patient in bed.
Often, these moves seem simple and, given busy caregiver schedules, many nurses feel that calling for help will simply take too much time. Unfortunately, this is when injuries happen or when MSDs can start.
There is a Better Way
Think of the Pink Slip® as a conveyor belt. Used appropriately, it simply glides, reducing skin shear and making lateral transfer and repositioning easier for patients and caregivers alike.
The lowest slip index rating on the market helps with this glide action. And coupled with the carefully designed and tested size, the Pink Slip is easy to place under a patient. Have a larger patient? No problem. Simply apply a second Pink Slip under the legs.
In terms of application, the Pink Slip is incredibly flexible. Our experience in the field has shed new light on the many uses for the Pink Slip. Here are ten ways that the Pink Slip can elevate safety and security to your nursing staff:
- Boosting: Boosting patients in bed has become one of the leading causes of injuries to bedside caregivers in hospitals. The Pink Slip is simply applied just past the shoulder blades. Due to the decrease in friction, the patient can now boost themselves independently, or with the assistance of caregivers, allowing a significant force reduction on their backs.
- Lateral Transfers: A quick and easy way to perform lateral transfers: Log-roll the patient one way to insert the Pink Slip and a sheet just past the patient’s midline and under their shoulders and hips. A second Pink Slip under their legs enables a single-person transfer or a transfer of a larger patient.
- Sling Application: The Pink Slip works like magic when putting on a seated sling. Two Pink Slips are slipped behind the patient either in a chair, wheelchair, or bed. The sling is fed effortlessly between the two Pink Slips.The top Pink Slip is peeled away and you are left with a perfectly positioned sling.
- Seated Pivoting: If you thought the trash bag trick was the best way to pivot someone in or out of a car seat, bed, or chair, you haven’t tried it with a Pink Slip. No more straining your back to assist someone — they may be even able to do it independently now. A perfect SPH trick for your Emergency Department.
- Heavy Limb Lifting: The Pink Slip can be placed under a patient’s heel to facilitate in-bed exercises. This allows them to retract and extend leg or abduct and adduct easier for independent range of motion. It can also be used by the caregiver to abduct the patient’s leg(s) for easier perineal access for cleaning or catheter placement or removal.
- X-Ray Casette Placement: No more “shoving” the X-Ray cassette under the patients. Instead, slide it into a Pink Slip and it will glide painlessly. Your X-Ray techs will be impressed!
- Bed to Wheelchair Transfer: Batteries not charged in your lift? No problem. The Pink Slip can solve this issue with two caregivers. Placed under the patient’s bottom and the opening to chair facing the mattress, the patient is shifted to their chair without being lifted.
- Side to Side Turning or Supine to Prone, Prone to Supine Turning: . A common occurrence in diagnostics and the OR. Let the Pink Slip do the work for you. Draw sheets alone will tire and potentially injure your staff. The Pink Slip eases these maneuvers.
- Friction-Reducing “Gloves”: Pink Slip already opened? Why not use it to place an item under a patient. Place your hand inside the Pink Slip, grab the thigh pad of the sling, and presto — no more struggling to get it under.
- Early Mobility: Friction-reducing devices are recommended to be a part in every stage of an Early Mobility Program. Utilize the Pink Slip to increase your patients’ independence.
When deploying a Pink Slip, remember these safety tips: The Pink Slip should not be used for lifting patients. Always lock casters or wheels on the bed or stretcher before the move, and make sure the bed rails are up and locked if you need to step away.
A Pink Slip, or any friction-reducing device, should never be left under a patient. Patients should always be assessed by a medical professional prior to use with any transfer or repositioning device. And always follow your hospital’s policies and best practices for patient transfer and repositioning.
October 2015 | The American Journal of Safe Patient Handling & Mobility
This blog article is a summary of a peer-reviewed scientific article published in Volume 5, Issue 3 of The American Journal of Safe Patient Handling & Mobility
James Carlson, RN, moves quickly all day long to accomplish his tasks in his hospital’s geriatric unit. Because he’s in a hurry he often lifts and transfers patients by himself. In rare cases, such as very heavy patients, he seeks help from other staff.
It’s not unusual for James to leave work with what he calls a “stiff back.” One day, carrying the groceries into his home, he bends over and reaches into the refrigerator to put away a six-pack of soda, and TWANG! —“out” goes his back. Technically it’s not an on-the-job injury, but it’s still a dreaded occurrence for both James and his employer.
If you’re working in a hospital or rehabilitation facility these days, you know this is true: Today’s caregivers are working in a hurry and for average patients they often don’t have the time to slow down to seek help from others, or to obtain the necessary patient transfer equipment. Consequently they injure themselves performing unassisted, or under-assisted, moves and transfers.
And, these days, even if you can find the equipment, it is often inappropriate for the task. Given the obesity issues faced in this country today, available equipment is often designed for patients who fall somewhere on the bariatric scale. The truth? Transferring an extraordinarily heavy patient is a rare problem. The fact is that more than 99% of your patients will weigh between 110 – 250 pounds. Bariatric equipment will be inappropriate for nearly every patient your facility serves.
This is what we call the Critical Lift Zone: the general patient population, where routine but unsafe patient handling practices lead to the greatest risks to caregivers, and to the greatest financial burden for the facility.
- Care facilities often devote budget to expensive equipment for handling extremely heavy patients, but there are far greater numbers of patients in the normal weight range, and the tools needed to handle them safely are typically not easily available.
- A common perception is that average-weight patients can be handled without special assistance, compared to the occasional extremely heavy patient for whom additional caregivers and special lifting equipment is obviously necessary. Yet ergonomics research reveals the dangers in handling even very small amounts of weight at arm’s length.
- Minor back injuries due to unsafe patient handling are cumulative. Routine handling of typical patients can cause strains and tears that add up over time and lead to major injuries and chronic impairments.
What is the Critical Lift Zone?
Though bariatric-class patients are typically defined in terms of body mass index (BMI), 300 pounds (136 kg) is considered a reasonable lower threshold in terms of weight. The NIOSH safe lifting limit and the bariatric weight threshold are shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Bariatric weight class and the NIOSH safe lifting limit.
Bariatric patients are obviously far heavier than the NIOSH guideline for safe lifting and generally require specifically designed equipment.
The NIOSH-bariatric gap becomes truly alarming, however, when viewed in the context of the weight distribution of the adult population, shown in Figure 2. As the chart illustrates, the body weights of virtually 100% of the U.S. adult population exceeds the NIOSH safe lifting limit. At least 95% of the population weighs less than 125 kg (273 lbs)12, well under the bariatric threshold.
Despite such statistics and the lifting limit established by NIOSH, in our experience the patient care industry is often preoccupied with the requirements of morbidly obese patients and bariatric units, as evidenced by the large volumes of scholarly research, types of equipment purchased and caregiver focus on bariatric safety. Handling of bariatric patients is a real and growing issue, certainly, but we believe it overshadows the ever-present risks encountered in handling the vast majority of the patient population.
Figure 2. U.S. body-weight data. More than 95% of the adult population is in the Critical Lift Zone.
To bring attention to this issue, we define the range of patient weights below the adult 95% percentile and above the NIOSH lifting limit as the Critical Lift Zone—‘critical’ precisely because it represents by far the greatest portion of patient handling activities and risks for injuries, yet is often under-recognized and under-served by available SPH practices and tools.
The facts are simple: Continuing to lift and transfer normal-weight patients without appropriate assistance ignores the obvious risk and perpetuates the safety crisis for care organizations, caregivers and their patients.
Equipment Can Help
To encourage caregiver compliance with Safe Patient Handling principles, Wy’East offers a variety of affordable devices designed for the general patient population. Click on the following links to learn more:
|Inexpensive, disposal friction-reducing devices such as slip sheets||Transfer chairs||Standing assists and lifts|
Your Wy’East representative will be happy to discuss these tools with you, and also help you locate firms in your area that rent equipment for accommodating occasional extremely heavy patients. In this way you need not add significantly to your Safe Patient Handling budget, but simply reallocate spending to achieve the maximum benefit.
Safe Patient Handling has become an important theme for a reason. Too many nursing careers are cut short by musculoskeletal injuries, and too many hospitals are feeling the effects of compensation claims, lost productivity, and other burdens to already-tight budgets. Addressing the Critical Lift Zone is part of this equation, ensuring that your caregivers are enabled and equipped to employ safe practices routinely and to avoid risky shortcuts, all while assisting the 99%.
Evaluate and assess your practices and equipment within the context of the Critical Lift Zone. When you do, you’ll see how your healthcare facility will gain in day-to-day efficiency and your caregivers will suffer far fewer injuries.
Wy’East Medical has been awarded Patient Lifts and Lateral Transfer Devices agreement with Premier, Inc.
August 2015 | Press Release
Wy’East Medical has been awarded a group purchasing agreement for Patient Lifts and Lateral Transfer Devices with Premier, Inc. Effective August 1, 2015 the new agreement allows Premier members, at their discretion, to take advantage of special pricing and terms pre-negotiated by Premier for Patient Lifts and Lateral Transfer Devices.
Wy’East Medical provides a complete line of patient transfer products and lifts:
- Chairs: The TotaLift Transfer Chair is 3 devices in one: transfer device, stretcher, and chair
- FRDs: The Pink Slip is an affordable, disposable friction-reducing device
- Lifts: A wide range of assistive devices target all mobility levels
- Slings: A complete line of reusable and disposable options for slings
To read the full release, click here.
July 2015 | JTECH Medical
“A memo has been issued by OSHA reaffirming the requirement to provide safe working conditions for nursing staff… OSHA reminds administrators that many resources have already been made available to help offer insight and promote best practices for safety among healthcare workers.”
To read more, click here.
July 2015 | National Public Broadcasting
NPR covered a study done in Cleveland Clinic’s Neurointensive Care Unit that discusses the benefits of early mobilization with patients suffering from brain injuries.
To read/listen to the full story, click here.
July 2015 | Steven Smith, Wy’East Medical
Tests confirm that repeated laundering of reusable friction-reducing devices reduces their effectiveness.
The everyday tasks of repositioning patients in bed and performing lateral transfers onto other surfaces are notorious for causing caregiver injuries. Moreover, lifting and moving a patient safely often requires interrupting the normal workflows of multiple caregivers.
To promote Safe Patient Handling and reduce staff interruptions, Wy’East Medical offers simple friction-reducing devices (FRDs) made of slippery fabric, in both recyclable and reusable forms.
June 2015 | National Public Broadcasting
Earlier this year NPR published a series describing their investigations of nurse injuries in medical facilities. Their work seems not to be in vein as OSHA launches a program to protect nursing employees. Caretaker injuries are reduced by using the proper safe patient equipment. Does your facility have an adequate supply of equipment? Check out our full line of safe patient handling equipment here.
To read/listen to the full story, click here.
June 2015 | Fierce Healthcare
More reports that hospitals not complying with OSHA’s crackdown will face fines up to $70K. Another step in the right direction towards keeping both patient and caregiver protected.
To read more, click here.
June 2015 | Healthcare Finance
Healthcare workers still have more reported injuries than any other industry. This epidemic safe patient handling injuries is finally being given a serious look by federal regulators. OSHA has plans of enforcing this this through investigations, audits, and potentially even fines.
To read more, click here.
April 2015 | Oregon OSHA
Don’t become a back injury statistic. This video is intended to provide current information about ergonomics and safety issues related to patient handling and care tasks. The field of ergonomics is dynamic, and new information is constantly being developed.
This was made possible with the help of a grant from Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA), a division of the Department of Consumer & Business Services, and developed by Oregon Nurses Association, Bay Area Hospital, and The University of Oregon Labor Education and Research Center.
There’s accompanying print material available for free on the Oregon OSHA website. Applied Ergonomics for Nurses and Health Care Workers and Patient Orientation – A Guide for Instructors.