Patient-Handling Programs Help Prevent Injuries, Mitigate Liability Risks

February 9, 2018

Meeting the physical demands of lifting, repositioning, and transferring a patient puts both the patient and caregiver at risk for injury. It’s essential, therefore, for home health care agencies to provide their staff with safe patient-handling training and equipment use.

Safe patient-handling programs improve patient quality of care, patient comfort and safety during transfer, and reduce the risk of falls, of being dropped and of suffering skin tears or bruises. This in turn helps to mitigate a home health care provider’s professional liability exposures and potential for lawsuits, which can stem from allegations of negligence or improper care in the event of patient mishandling or injury.

Effective patient-handling training programs also help in preventing injuries to caregivers and ultimately assist in reducing Workers’ Compensation claims for on-the-job injuries. The most common injuries caregivers experience are to the back, neck, and shoulders. They are at greatest risk for injury when they are pulling an individual who is reclining in bed into a sitting position, lifting and transferring a person from a bed to a wheelchair, and leaning over a person for long periods of time.

A training program for lifting, positioning and transferring a patient should include the following:

  • Overview/discussion of neck and back strain risks
  • Use of proper body mechanics
  • Assessment of patient needs and ability (level of assistance patient requires, size and weight of patient, medical conditions that can influence the choice of methods for lifting or repositioning)
  • Keys to safe transfers
  • Safe transferring and lifting techniques
  • Proper use of assistive equipment including slip sheets, slide boards, rollers, slings, belts, mechanical or electronic hoist, adjustable beds, raised toilet seats, shower chairs and grab bars

All caregivers should be able to demonstrate the recommended patient-handling techniques following the home health care provider’s policies. In addition, for training to be effective, it must be an ongoing process whereby supervisors frequently review work practices to determine training needs. Supervisors need to continually reinforce the organization’s lifting policies and ensure that caregivers have the proper supplies and equipment necessary when called upon to transfer a client from one location to another.

It’s also important to ensure that the right insurance solutions are in place in the event of patient or employee injury. Manchester Specialty Programs specializes in insuring the home care industry and provide comprehensive portfolio of coverages that includes General Liability, Professional Liability, Workers’ Compensation, Management Liability, Cyber Liability and Non-Owned & Hired Auto insurance. For more information about our business and insurance lines, you or your local agent/broker may contact us at 855.972.9399.