Lifting and exertion injuries decrease after implementation of an integrated hospital-wide safe patient handling and mobilisation programme

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Abstract

Objective

With increasing emphasis on early and frequent mobilisation of patients in acute care, safe patient handling and mobilisation practices need to be integrated into these quality initiatives. We completed a programme evaluation of a safe patient handling and mobilisation programme within the context of a hospital-wide patient care improvement initiative that utilised a systems approach and integrated safe patient equipment and practices into patient care plans.

Methods

Baseline and 12-month follow-up surveys of 1832 direct patient care workers assessed work practices and self-reported pain while an integrated employee payroll and injury database provided recordable injury rates collected concurrently at 2 hospitals: the study hospital with the programme and a comparison hospital.

Results

Safe and unsafe patient handling practice scales at the study hospital improved significantly (p<0.0001 and p=0.0031, respectively), with no differences observed at the comparison hospital. We observed significant decreases in recordable neck and shoulder (Relative Risk (RR)=0.68, 95% CI 0.46 to 1.00), lifting and exertion (RR=0.73, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.89) and pain and inflammation (RR=0.78, 95% CI 0.62 to 1.00) injury rates at the study hospital. Changes in rates at the comparison hospital were not statistically significant.

Conclusions

Within the context of a patient mobilisation initiative, a safe patient handling and mobilisation programme was associated with improved work practices and a reduction in recordable worker injuries. This study demonstrates the potential impact of utilising a systems approach based on recommended best practices, including integration of these practices into the patient's plan for care.

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