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What are patient lifts, and how are they used safely?

Patient lifts are lifts used in medical facilities that lift a patient from a bed to a stretcher, wheelchair or to a particular location. These lifts are usually battery powered or manually operated with the use of hydraulics.

How can patients be kept safe when lifted?

When a patient is being lifted, it's vital that the people involved know how to use the lift appropriately. Each person using it should receive training to understand how to use the lift and practice implementing these procedures ahead of time. They should be aware of how to match the sling that will hold the patient to the correct lift and how to choose a sling based on the weight of the patient. Failing to do this can result in the sling coming loose, dropping a patient, or causing an injury to the patient or workers.

What else should those using the lift do?

It's a priority to make sure the lift's weight limit is not exceeded. Between patients, the sling should be washed and the machine itself should be checked for damage or wear and tear. If any worn parts are discovered, then they should be immediately replaced.

What should patients do when being lifted to another area or position?

Whenever a patient is moved, the health care team should be sure the patient is ready. The patient should not be agitated or restless, as they may not set into the sling correctly and could fall. The patient's arms should slide into the sling straps comfortably for security. If the medical team fails to load the patient correctly and an injury occurs, the patient could decide to file a lawsuit or make a medical negligence claim.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Patient Lifts," accessed Aug. 04, 2016

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