How much lifting does an ICU nurse do?


Hey guys..

Just wondering from the perspective of any experienced ICU much patient lifting do you do? :)


54 Posts

Patients don't want to be turned after surgery so you must first medicate to ease the move. Lifting is an every day occurrance in my unit requiring at least 2 staff members and using modified trendelenburg (you may also use a Hoyer lift). The morbid obese patients require alot of staff to reposition so you need to have a strong back to work in ICU!The transferring and accompanying patients to Cat Scans/MRI's or to to step down units are the worse on your back! So you are required to be strong!

Long Term Care Columnist / Guide

VivaLasViejas, ASN, RN

142 Articles; 9,982 Posts

Specializes in LTC, assisted living, med-surg, psych. Has 26 years experience.

I did more lifting in ICU than anywhere else, except for nursing homes (and we LTC nurses use mechanical lifts for everyone now). So if you're looking for a job where you don't do much lifting, the ICU is the last place you want to be, unless you can find a job in a super-modern hospital that has ceiling lifts in all the rooms.....

Specializes in Family Practice, Mental Health. Has 32 years experience.

The ICU that I work in does not have any other staff present than the direct care RN's. There's no CNA, Lift Team, Ward Clerk. No one. Any pulling up in bed or repositioning or baths are done by grabbing another RN or the resource nurse if there is one present.

Specializes in Adult and Pediatric CVSICU, CCU. Has 2 years experience.

I always joke that my experience as a horse woman prepared me for ICU nursing. In CVICU esp where you get people oob 4 x a days starting POD 1 with Swan's, chest tubes, CVLS, pacemaker boxes and they are so weak and dizzy!


132 Posts

Specializes in SICU.

To answer the OP's post in two words: A LOT! Sometimes I feel like 75% of my job is lifting! And more and more patients are obsese, which is especially tough. We must turn Q2, and then when you account for your 1-2 patients, plus helping other nurses turn their patients, well then that adds up to a lot of lifting.

stressgal, RN

589 Posts

Specializes in CCRN.
A lot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ditto! You must remember that most ICU patients are on that unit for a reason. You just use good skills to prevent an injury to yourself. Hopefully for the obese patients you are able to obtain a specialized bed that assists with turns, but as one poster said you still need to transfer patients onto various testing tables and so on.

Hoozdo, ADN

1,555 Posts

Specializes in ICU, Research, Corrections. Has 15 years experience.

So much lifting that there ought to be a law about it! I have searched OSHA law before and did not find any lifting restrictions for nurses - only in nursing homes. In my part of the country, nurses must be able to lift and carry 50 lbs to be eligible for bedside nursing. Believe me, you are going to lift WAY MORE than 50 lbs........and more often than not, it's going to be uncooperative dead weight with much tubing attached.


2,438 Posts

We do so much lifting that it's ridiculous. I work in a unit that does a LOT of travel to CT, MRI, and interventional radiology 24 hours a day. We generally have to travel at least once and sometimes twice per 12 hour shift. Turning, wiping, cleaning, respositioning, getting up to chair is all hard work on the back!


53 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care Nursing.

the short answer is too much!

At a hospital where I used to work we had 'hover matts' however not sure they are still used. They were great for lifting in that they created a cushion of air enabling three people (one for tube and two for lift) to move just about any size patient with ease. that is up the bed, out of the bed and from bed to CT table. there is always a but though and the bigs buts were pressure areas (the addition of the mat beneath the patient cancelled out the low air loss mattress) and infection control.

from the land down under


14 Posts

Specializes in ICU.

A ton. No pun intended. We usually don't have a CNA, so its us RN's who do all the lifting and turning.

This topic is now closed to further replies.