Valley Voice: Technology advances do little to alleviate nursing hardships
By Stephanie Salter
June 2, 2004
Registered Nurses have transitioned from white to bright -- uniforms that is.
Much has changed over the years. Although the history of nursing brings nostalgic memories to many of us, we must also remember the pitfalls.
Technology has surpassed our wildest dreams, allowing monitors to reveal long-sought patient information.
Unfortunately this technology has done little to improve the nurses' condition. Nurses suffer back, shoulder, and/or knee injuries, which may be acute or chronic, known as repetitive stress injuries.
Lifting teams, combined with new technology and equipment, are the answer.
Nurses, lifting sporadically, injure themselves. Patients weighing 200 pounds to 400 pounds fail to receive adequate care. A single nurse cannot provide basic care to these patients who acquire bedsores by remaining in one position too long. Other nurses, busy with their own patients, can't always lend a hand.
These patients need special beds, wheelchairs and lifting equipment.
It makes sense then that nurses need lifting teams trained in the use of the equipment for support assistance.
A presentation, given at Desert Regional Medical Center, provided information concerning the use of lifting teams at the University of Washington. The research, done by an RN, was so compelling that the university formed a lifting team.
The RN, a recruiter for RNs at the university, used the presence of their lifting team as a recruitment tool.
The members of their lifting team have never been injured because they are required to maintain their own physical fitness under a doctor's care. The team's response time is only three minutes.
Not only has this approach provided better patient care, prevented nursing injury, but has also saved the university more than half a million dollars in worker's compensation and lost hours due to sick calls.
Australia has a Zero Lift Policy. Teams do the lifting there.
Now, many hospitals in this country are beginning to add the presence of lifting teams to their recruitment brochures.
As we go forward with technology for patients, let us not forget nurses.
Truman Gates, CEO of Desert Regional Medical Center said, "It takes a sharp mind, a gentle touch and a big heart to do their jobs."
It also takes a strong back and specialized training to do the job.
Only those people who lift professionally can do it without injury. Nurses' Day should be every day.
As we care for our patients, let us care for each other.
I hope Desert Regional Medical Center will be the first hospital in our valley to institute a lifting team.
Stephanie Salter, RN, is a critical-care registered nurse in the Open Heart ICU, Desert Regional Medical Center, Palm Springs