Those who work in the health care industry face various challenges when they go to work. They face the possibility of sickness, emotional duress and even physical harm. One of the most common ways nurses and other types of health care professionals may face physical risk is by lifting, adjusting or transferring immobile patients. If you are a Minnesota doctor, nurse or medical technician, knowing how to safely transfer patients is critical.
You may need to move a patient from a wheelchair to a bed, or from one bed to another. Immobile patients may also need support getting back and forth to the bathroom or in the shower. If you do not know how to safely handle patients while moving them, you are placing yourself at an elevated risk for an injury. The safe transfer of patients is about the well-being of the patient, as well as your own personal safety.
Lifting and moving immobile patients
Some patients may be easier to move than others, but it is possible to keep yourself safe and lower the risk of back, knee, shoulder and arm injuries, no matter the size or weight of the patient. When transferring patients, remember the following:
- Move patients only when it is medically necessary or for hygiene reasons.
- When transferring a patient, get as close to him or her as possible, putting your center of mass close to the patient’s center of mass.
- Before you move the patient, spread your legs slightly more than shoulder-width apart, and plant your feet firmly on the ground.
- Try to transfer the patient from higher to lower rather than the reverse. The pull of gravity can make the transfer easier.
- When moving a patient, move or pivot your feet instead of twisting your back.
- Communicate with the others who are assisting with the transfer, and have the patient engaged with the process as well, if possible.
When you and the other care providers are working together well, patient transfers can be simpler and easier. Additionally, this may prove helpful in the prevention of ergonomic injuries. However, if you do suffer an injury while moving a patient, you will benefit from knowing how you can get the care you need and deserve. A workers’ compensation claim may be an appropriate course of action for health care workers who have suffered injuries while transferring a patient or in the course of his or her job duties.