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Why aren’t hospitals and nursing care facilities doing more to prevent lift injuries?

There’s a lot of conversation about what can be done to prevent hospital patients and nursing home residents from suffering unnecessary injuries. But what about their caregivers?

The same economic forces that drive hospitals to cut corners and nursing facilities to cut their staff seem to drive policy decisions that also affect the safety of the nurses and aides who work there. Injuries from lifting patients who need mobility assistance to get out of their beds, chairs, tubs and off of their commodes are the number one threat to nurses. Yet, hospitals and other facilities routinely skip the steps that could prevent such injuries.

What would it take to make things better? It would include things like:

  • Adjustable chairs that will reduce the exertion a patient needs to make in order to rise
  • Height-adjustable exam chairs or tables for patients who need help
  • Walk-in tubs and lifts on the commode to make bathroom trips easier
  • Overhead lifts in patient rooms to assist with bed changes for immobile patients
  • Policies that require team lifts with more than one caregiver per patient

Overhead lifts are probably the most important device to have in patient rooms, but facilities balk at paying $16,000 or so per room. It’s cheaper to buy a few mobile lifts for about $6,000 each and use them throughout the facility — but those are only effective if caregivers have time to go get them. That’s not always possible when a facility is short-staffed.

If you’re a nurse or other professional caregiver who was injured on the job while lifting a patient, you’re far from alone. Thousands of others suffer the same kinds of injuries every year. Find out what it takes to successfully claim the workers’ compensation you are due.