5 Myths About Manual Lifting
4 minute read time
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the leading cause 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 extremely awkward postures.
Some examples of patient-handling tasks that may be identified as high-risk include:
- transferring from toilet to chair
- transferring from chair to bed
- transferring from bathtub to chair
- repositioning from side to side in bed
- lifting a patient in bed
- repositioning a patient in a chair
- making a bed with a patient in it
The consequences of work-related musculoskeletal injuries are substantial. Along with medical expenses, disability compensation, and litigation, these injuries are costly in terms of chronic pain and functional disability, absenteeism, and turnover. As many as 20% of nurses who leave direct patient care positions do so because of risks associated with the work. In addition, healthcare employees who experience pain and fatigue may be less productive, less attentive, more susceptible to further injury, and may also be more likely to negatively affect the health and safety of others.
The good news is that work-related MSDs can be prevented. Safe patient handling programs 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 program is overcoming deeply ingrained misconceptions about patient handling practices. To help you separate fact from fiction, take a look at some of the common myths surrounding manual lifting:
Myth #1: Mechanical lifting is not as safe and comfortable for patients as manual lifting.
Reality: Once patients realize 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 (including the use of back belts) is not, by itself, an effective way to reduce injuries. There is no such thing as safe manual lifting of a patient.
Myth #3: You don’t 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. Experts recommend that lifts be limited to 35 pounds or less. 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: Costs associated with back injuries in the health care industry are estimated to be $20 billion every year. Research shows that the use of assistive technology, such as mechanical lifts, reduces injuries to workers and lowers costs associated with workers’ compensation, lost productivity and employee turnover.
For more information on training and review of proper lifting techniques, contact your Johnson Financial Group advisor or find one today.
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