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The Role of Safe Patient Handling in Risk Management

Workers' Compensation Claims and Cost |
Written by Dell Dorn

by Manchester Specialty | August 14, 2015

 

Safe patient handling has long been an area of concern for nurses and para-professionals, especially those who work in home care. As one of the fastest developing sectors in the healthcare industry, the demand for home healthcare providers is only going to continue to grow. While many technological advances have been made to assist with patient handling, the ongoing physical demands these healthcare workers face are numerous, stressing the importance of a sound Home Healthcare Risk Management strategy.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) cites musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as one of the top sources of injury to healthcare workers.

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) cites musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as one of the top sources of injury to healthcare workers, not only in the home care setting, but also in long-term care, acute care, physical therapy, etc. Repeated manual patient handling activities, such as heavy manual lifting associated with transferring and repositioning patients, often cause overexertion injuries to healthcare staff. High risk patient handling tasks typically include:

  • Transferring a patient from toilet to chair or from chair to bed;
  • Transferring patient from bathtub to chair;
  • Repositioning patient from side to side in bed;
  • Lifting a patient into their bed;
  • Repositioning a patient in a chair; or
  • Making a bed with a patient in it.

 

Benefits of Safe Patient Handling

According to OSHA, the use of assistive equipment has been shown to reduce exposure to manual lifting injuries by up to 95%. Not only do safe patient handling programs reduce injury risk for healthcare workers and patients, but they also provide an overall better quality of patient care. OSHA cites these additional employer benefits as well:

  • More Satisfying Work Environment;
  • Improved Nursing Recruitment and Retention;
  • Increases Patient Satisfaction and Comfort;
  • Decreased Patient Falls and Pressure Ulcers; and
  • Reduced Costs Associated With Injuries.

 

Preventing Patient Handling Hazards for Home Healthcare Employees

Safe patient handling is an important part of a home healthcare agency’s risk management strategy for multiple reasons. As cited by OSHA, injuries account for higher employer costs due to medical expenses, workers’ compensation and litigation. The long-term effects may be detrimental as well; home healthcare worker injuries could result in chronic pain and permanent or long-term functional disability, absenteeism, and eventual employee turnover.

As cited by OSHA, injuries account for higher employer costs due to medical expenses, workers’ compensation and litigation.

How can home care agencies help avoid these risks? Agencies can provide devices that are specifically designed to assist with patient lifting and transfer. Developing and implementing a safe patient handling program and providing workers with appropriate measures to avoid manual handling where possible is also key. The education and training of home healthcare staff should include assessment of hazards in their work settings, appropriate selection and use of patient lifting equipment and devices and safe patient handling transfer techniques.

Home healthcare workers are not the only individuals at risk; patients could be injured if not assisted properly. It’s vital that home care agencies consistently review research-based practices of safe patient handling with their staff, and invest in equipment that will set their staff up for success. Overall, a home healthcare agency’s goal should be to eliminate manual patient handling as much as possible, to prevent further injury to a patient who may already be suffering from various physical ailments. In the case of an employee injury, the home care firm should have a pain relief treatment program in conjunction with their workers’ compensation insurance carrier/program. These risk management efforts will not only improve patient care and employee morale, but could also help agencies avoid workers’ compensation claims and reduce associated medical costs.

In the case of an employee injury, the home care firm should have a pain relief treatment program.

 

At DORN, we understand the wide range of risk exposures faced by healthcare organizations. We provide a comprehensive injury intervention and prevention program, Pain-Free™ Treatment. The Pain-Free Treatment Program benefits include, but are not limited to: 

  • Significantly reduce employee MSD symptoms, resulting in dramatic cost savings for the employer
  • On-site muscular pain relief therapy, employees remain on the company premises while receiving treatment
  • DORN therapy is specifically defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) as first aid treatment and is therefore non-OSHA recordable
  • Employees treated rarely need light duty, job rotation or job restrictions
  • Quick, safe, effective, and lasting pain relief for employees
  • Employee’s symptoms are specifically addressed with no wasted time or unnecessary procedures
  • Reduced medication / prescription levels, decreasing on the job side effects of medicine and returning normal mood and attitude of employees
  • Employees see almost immediate results, relieving painful conditions that inhibit their ability to perform daily tasks
  • Absenteeism and presenteeism decrease while morale and productivity improve

 

To find out more about the DORN Pain-Free Program, you can give us a call today at 206-498-5122.

 

This article was originally published by Manchester Specialty. You can see the original article here: http://www.manchesterspecialty.com/home-healthcare-providers/risk-management-safe-patient-handling/

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About the Author

Dell Dorn

Dell Dorn is the founder of DORN Companies. He started DORN in 1998 to help employers save money on workers' compensation claims and reduce OSHA recordables. Today, DORN customers realize the immense cost of employee pain and the enormous impact our service has on employee morale and their bottom line.
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About the Author

Dell Dorn

Dell Dorn is the founder of DORN Companies. He started DORN in 1998 to help employers save money on workers' compensation claims and reduce OSHA recordables. Today, DORN customers realize the immense cost of employee pain and the enormous impact our service has on employee morale and their bottom line.
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