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Evidence-Based Nursing: Safe patient handling: Is your facility ready for a culture change?
Edna Cadmus PhD, RN, NEA-BC
Patricia Brigley BSN, RN, COHN-S
Madelyn Pearson MA, RN, NEA-BC

Nursing Management
November 2011 
Volume 42  Number 11
Pages 12 - 15
  PDF Version Available!

Creating a safe patient-handling environment for patients and staff requires a strategic plan, leadership support, and staff engagement. The benefits of creating such an environment far outweigh the financial outlay; yet very few institutions have committed to this change nationally. We present one facility's experience with developing, implementing, and evaluating a safe patient-handling program.In 2005, an interdisciplinary facility-wide ergonomics committee was formed, comprised of staff nurses, patient-care associates, physical and occupational therapists, directors of occupational health nursing units, rehabilitation medicine, biomedical engineering, and the CNO. Over 50% of the committee was comprised of direct patient-care providers. This was important to gain staff buy-in early in the process. The aim of this team was to identify a strategic plan for safe patient handling. The occupational health director chaired the committee. It was important to the success of this program that a senior leader be involved from the beginning to ensure that she could translate the need for the program to the board of trustees and show the staff that leadership was serious about implementing a program of this nature. Union leadership was in support of this program and encouraged staff participation in the process.The first step in creating a safe patient-handling program was to become educated on the scientific evidence that was behind the use of ergonomic equipment. A literature search was conducted to identify best practices and to support the need for ergonomic equipment.1-9 The team found that the Tampa Veterans Administration had received funding to implement and evaluate a comprehensive safe patient-handling program. This program's materials were available online and could be utilized to assist in the planning process. Additionally, various vendors were asked to present their equipment so that the team could learn and evaluate the pros and cons of each device.A facility-wide

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