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Taking Away The Back Strain

May 6, 2011, 6:10 PM by Kelli Grant

Taking Away The Back Strain
SIOUX FALLS, SD - When you think of a job that requires heavy lifting, you may think of construction or farming. Health care likely never enters your mind.

But surprisingly, six of the top 10 professions at greatest risk for back injury are all in the health care field, predominantly nurses. But new technology is taking the strain off of their backs and making patients feel more secure.

Moving patients from a wheelchair to their bed or from their bed to the bathroom is constant in hospitals across the country.

“Sometimes when you have to move a patient, like if they're in a precarious situation, you don't always think about body mechanics,” Sanford nurse Steve Shields said.

It's why Sanford Health has found a way to make those moves much safer, much faster and without all that heavy lifting.

“If you think of a manufacturing plant or you think of a construction site, they have machines to move things that weigh 100 pounds. But when we have a patient we think, 'Oh, this patient only weighs 100 pounds and we can move them manually.' We're really trying to shift that paradigm that 100 pounds is a big deal,” Sanford Nurse Practitioner Kelly Hefti said.

The patient lifts consist of a ceiling track and a variety of sling options. And they're designed to carry all kinds of weight.

“The usual weight capacity's up to 550 pounds. We do have a couple of options throughout the hospital that can move up to 750 and even 1,000 pounds,” Hefti said.

In the past, nursing staff would have to manually move patients all why trying to be conscious of how they're lifting and where their hands are.

“You would get three, four, five, even six people trying to get around a patient, lift them, move them. So not only is there a benefit to the nurse obviously not having to manually move that patient, but think about much safer and secure the patient will feel in not have five or six people try to manually move them,” Hefti said.

The health system has installed more than 50 patient lifts both in the main and children's Hospital. Every room in the new Heart Hospital and the facility in Aberdeen will be equipped with patient lifts.

“That whole transfer was safe and very little risk for injury to the patient or to the staff,” Shields said.

Bringing with it a huge return on investment.

Since the first unit was installed on the dialysis floor, there have been no injuries on that unit.

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