Patient Safety: Pay Now or Pay Later

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media , July 2, 2013

Hospitals might bristle at the idea of investing much money in these kinds of technologies if they're already struggling financially. But the ANA says the investment is worth it. It also points to alternative, lower-cost technologies such as air-assisted lifting devices that are not as expensive as ceiling lifts.  

I'd also argue—and so do the ANA and other organizations—that healthcare workers have spent too long being the exception among industries that don't expect their workers to manually lift unreasonably heavy loads.

"Science tells us that a healthcare provider should not lift more than 35 pounds of a patient's weight under the best of circumstances," said Mary Matz, MSPH, CPE, CSPHP, chair of the SPHM Working Group and national program manager for patient care ergonomics at the Veterans Health Administration. "We all know that there are few patients that fall into that category."  

Anyone who's ever spent any time in a warehouse knows that although there's certainly lifting involved, workers regularly employ the use "technologies" to move heavier loads. I doubt whether any warehouse owner would object to buying a forklift because they're too expensive.  

"As nurses we've traditionally accepted manually moving patients as part of the job," Daley said. "In what other profession would a worker say, 'Let me boost up or move that little pile of hundred pound boxes?' They wouldn't. They would use some sort of technology to do the lifting."  

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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