Can the ANA do more to support improving Safe Patient Handling technology?

  1. As a caregiver, nursing aide, assistive technology engineer, and Hospice volunteer, I am currently attempting to raise the issue of inadequate assistive technology for nurses in the media in order to increase public and professional awareness.

    Basic premise: The 60-year old floor sling-lift is good for moving automotive engine blocks (its original purpose) but is not good for moving or transferring patients. The floor sling lift is:

    · Slow (3-6 minute transfer) - much too slow and invasive for toileting older adults
    · Painful (bending and compressing patients with uneven support and pressure)
    · Anxiety creating (leading to patients acting out, and caregiver or patient injury)
    · Inherently unsafe (patient is not supported from below and can fall for any number of reasons)
    · Bulky to retrieve and store
    · Difficult to use in homes resulting in bed bound patients causing pressure sores, hypostatic pneumonia, UTIs, blood clots, contractures, fluid in the airway, etc.
    · Mostly unusable in the home (requires allot of space and two trained caregivers) forcing bed-bound patients into costly LTC facilities ($75K per year)
    · Neither user nor patient friendly, and generally disliked by both groups

    Advocacy: What can be done? Nurses, PTs, OTs, ATPs, and nursing, patient, and disease advocacy organizations need to demand better SPH assistive technology (transfer-mobility equipment).

    Nurses need a single device that allows a single caregiver to provide:

    • Fast patient transfer to wheelchairs, commodes, toilets, and showers
    • Safe transfer to the above
    • Painless (less invasive) transfer to the above
    • Cost effective transfer to the above

    Advocacy: Creating Requirements: As an engineer, I am familiar with specifying clear user requirements for new products and devices. What the ANA can do is create a symposium to define the requirements for a new class of patient transfer and mobility devices that make bed transfer, showering, and toileting fast, safe, simple, cost effective, and painless.
    Nurses must demand better devices from medical device makers. This means the ANA and SPH experts coming together to agree on SPH device requirements.
  2. Visit jm_emt profile page

    About jm_emt, CNA, EMT-B

    Joined: Aug '16; Posts: 37; Likes: 18
    Specialty: 16 year(s) of experience


  3. by   NRSKarenRN
    ANA has worked on this issue for 10+ years, with their most recent campaign " Handle with Care".

    Elimination of Manual Patient Handling to Prevent Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders

    The Importance of Safe Patient Handling - American Nurses Association
    Through Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPHM) programs and advocacy, ANA is working to establish a safe environment for nurses, with the complete elimination of manual patient handling as our goal.
    Universal SPHM standards are required to protect nurses, across all health care settings. Without this concerted effort, nurses will continue to be needlessly injured. The use of technology, especially lifting devices, is critical to the success of these programs.

    Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Self-Assessment Resource
    Atlas Lift Tech, partnered with the ANA, has developed an online assessment tool to help you identify your facility's successes and opportunities for improvement in regards to safe patient handling and mobility.
    BOOK: Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards Across the Care Continuum
  4. by   jm_emt
    The Handle With Care Program (which is an excellent effort) is unfortunately only focused on adaptation and using current SPH technology (primarily sling-lifts - both floor and ceiling) for transferring fully dependent patients. The future and significant improvements to SPH technology are not on their radar.

    In recent correspondence with the ANA, their SPH expert fully acknowledged that sling lifts were NOT USABLE in most home care settings. So fully dependent patients often remain bed-fast at home. This is far from acceptable but it is the reality that most home care nurses must face. The solution seems to be to move the patient to LTC ($75K average cost per year).

    In a recent meeting with this ANA expert and two ANA SPH consultants, I tried to get them to look forward and create a list of "user requirements" for an ideal (or at least acceptable) SPH device - one that would make home and facility transfer of total care patients faster (especially for toileting), safer, less painful, and allow for single-caregiver transfer.

    I hit a brick wall. My proposed list of requirements clearly showed how sling-lifts would NEVER meet the most basic needs of nurses either in the home or in facilities. They would not even discuss such a list. One claim: "Nurses can't agree on what they need in SPH devices".

    It is embarrassing for SPH experts to admit how little progress has taken place in the field and the strategy seems to be to ignore these issues. Many insist that if nurses only used the available equipment and created a "culture of safety", all would be well. This is an illusion in my opinion, and needs to be challenged by every nursing professional.

    I sympathize with the situation of these experts who wish to reduce nursing occupational injuries by limiting manual patient transfer.

    However I am much more concerned with my patients who suffered terribly (and in my opinion unnecessarily) with dangerous and painful stand-pivot transfers, fear of falls and falls during transfer, dangerous showering/bathing, incontinence, being unnecessarily bed-bound with painful conditions for weeks and months before dying, etc.

    Better transfer devices would have substantially improved their lives, increased their mobility, reduced incontinence, reduced anxiety, etc. but none exist. At the rate of change in the SPH industry, none will exist in the foreseeable future. The 60-year old sling lift is still and will remain the "state-of-the-art" transfer mechanism for OSHA and the ANA.

    Home care nurses should be protesting this situation and shouting from the rooftops. Only grass roots pressure will bring change but nurses seem timid and not sure of how to bring about change. If you are part of a nursing or patient advocacy organization, I suggest you make your voice heard.