People who work in nursing homes and hospitals are facing the very serious risk of back injuries due to having to lift patients and help them with mobility issues. Finding ways to minimize the risk of these injuries has to be a priority for these employers.

In some settings, there might not be overhead lifts available to help move the patients. The chance of injury is much higher in facilities that don’t use them, and there is still the need for something to help workers lift patients.

Permanent versus mobile lifts

Some health care systems choose to use overhead lifts in their facilities. These are costly, with the average per-room expense coming in at around $16,000. The bonus is that some of these are made for obese patients and can lift patients as heavy as 1,000 pounds.

An alternative to these permanent systems is the mobile system. Instead of installing these in each room, a health facility can have a few and share them across the hospital. These cost around $6,000, but this option means that workers have to take the time to find a lift system before moving a patient.

Special considerations

For some patients, moving around isn’t much of a problem. The issue comes in with trying to climb onto an exam table or trying to get into specialized equipment. While the average chair seat is 18 inches, an average exam table is 33 inches. Even with the small step at the front of the table, it can be hard for some people to climb up. This puts the nurses in a precarious position of having to hoist the person up to a table that is waist high. Some health care facilities have moved to using adjustable tables and other equipment to make it easier for the patients and nurses.

Using team efforts and having proper protocol in place can also help to protect nurses and caregivers. While some back injuries appear suddenly, others are due to cumulative trauma. These individuals shouldn’t ever think that they need to ignore the pain. While it is admirable to want to continue to care for patients, they have to practice self-care.

In all these cases, the injured nurse may need to seek medical care and may have to miss time at work. This can trigger a workers’ compensation claim to help cover the medical expenses and possibly lost wages.