Northern Westchester Hospital brought home the gold recently as the Northwell Health Center for Learning and Innovation and Patient Safety Institute (CLI) was turned into an Olympics of sorts, pitting health system hospitals against one another in their quest for a medal in safe patient handling.
Teams from Staten Island University Hospital and Long Island Jewish Forest Hills brought home silver and bronze medals respectively.
The event in Lake Success, NY, was designed to be a fun and creative way to demonstrate safe and proper patient handling techniques that benefit both patients and healthcare workers.
“People don’t realize how dangerous it is to work in a hospital because we’re always moving patients,” said Paul M. Power, director of workforce safety for Northwell. According to statistics, one in three injuries to healthcare workers are caused by moving patients, and the majority of those injuries involve the back.
In fact, nursing staff sustains approximately 73 percent of musculoskeletal disorders (injuries that affect the human body’s movement and can involve muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and discs)..
“The average healthcare worker manually lifts 1.8 tons per eight-hour shift,” explained Power. “That’s equal to lifting one sedan per shift.”
To that end, hospital teams of five members competed in four events using motorized lifts and others devices to safely transition Northwell employees acting as patients in the following scenarios: laterally from a gurney to a bed; from a chair to a bed; from a bed to a chair; and off of the floor.
The teams were comprised of nurses, nurses’ assistants, occupational and physical therapists.
As the teams competed, they were judged by a nurse and occupational therapist, as well as the patient actor who scored them on their transport and interpersonal skills.
In 2014, New York State passed the Safe Patient Handling Law that requires healthcare facilities to establish safe patient handling programs. The law recognizes that safe patient handling programs can reduce the risk of injury, protect patient dignity, improve quality of care, increase patient satisfaction and enhance caregiver morale.
For Susana Dealmida, RN, BSN, MHA, assistant director of inpatient services at Northern Westchester Hospital and a nurse there, the Olympics is the perfect way to showcase the importance of proper body mechanics and using technology for safety sake.
“Northern Westchester was able to take home the gold because our front-line staff is used to being engaged as unit champions,” said Ms. Dealmida. “This has created a culture that promotes peer-to-peer accountability to practice safety protocols. A simple action, such as relocating the lift equipment from equipment rooms onto units, has improved accessibility and increased usage of the equipment.