'Road map' gives path for SPH success
Oversight and communication are key
You bought lift equipment, trained your staff and added new patient mobility assessments. Yet your injuries continue. What gives?
You may still be missing some important elements of a comprehensive safe patient handling program. In its new "hospitals" website, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers some tools for assessing your program. (See OSHA checklist inserted in this issue.)
OSHA also links to resources from other organizations, such as the Minnesota Hospital Association. To make the process simple yet thorough, the Minnesota Hospital Association has developed a "road map" for a comprehensive safe patient handling program. It provides specifics on such issues as how to create an oversight committee, what data to collect and report, and what to include in education of staff, patients and their families.
For example, the road map suggests that the safe patient handling committee should develop the business case for the SPH program, using staff and patient injury data, cost-savings related to injury prevention, and regulatory requirements.
The hospital association provides a gap analysis tool to help hospitals identify the areas they're missing on the road map. (A full set of safe patient handling tools, including the gap analysis, is available at www.mnhospitals.org/patient-safety/current-safety-quality-initiatives/patient-handling.)
The road map and gap analysis help streamline the efforts to build a successful program, says Julie Apold, MA, senior director of patient safety for the Minnesota Hospital Association in St. Paul. "It gives a real sense of structure [so hospitals] know what the goal is and they can systematically work toward that goal," she says.
Minnesota is one of nine states that have laws requiring hospitals to maintain a safe patient handling program. For example, Minnesota law defines the role and composition of the Safe Patient Handling Committee and the required elements of SPH policies.
But the road map and gap analysis are based on lessons learned from best practices — which can benefit any hospital, Apold says.
The MHA emphasizes the importance of building the SPH infrastructure with a committee, safe patient handling champion, and good data collection and analysis before launching the program. "Take time to do that well and you'll be more successful in the long run," she says.
Having a problem getting employees to follow through with the safe patient handling protocol? The road map emphasizes communication — from expectations of managers and staff to information about injuries and near-misses. That can be spread through newsletters, staff meetings and safety huddles.
"One of the best practices of the roadmap is to share data back to the staff — not just to tell numbers but to tell stories," says Apold. We found that to be really effective, to make the connection of why this is important."
Keep the safe lifting momentum
In its safe patient handling "roadmap," the Minnesota Hospital Association advises employers to conduct continuous improvement, with these recommended actions:
The facility has a process in place to address the following patient handling equipment issues on an on-going basis:
- conduct unit-level equipment needs evaluation at least annually.
- Involve direct patient care staff in the on-going evaluation, selection and piloting of new products.
- Track equipment locations, storage and ensure accessibility.
- Track operational status and need for maintenance of equipment/batteries/slings.
- Evaluate and replace equipment as needed.
- Ensure annual/preventative maintenance is accomplished.
- Track sling types, quantities, and condition.
- Facilitate battery/sling/equipment orders when needed.
- A standard process to notify appropriate department, e.g., maintenance, biomed, facilities management, when patient handling equipment problems/incidents arise.
- Ensure facility and manufacturer infection control requirements are followed. Consider additional measures for equipment in C. diff/isolation rooms (e.g., deeper cleaning of wheels and foot plates).
The facility has a process in place to continuously review safe patient handling processes and revise as needed through:
- On-going review of data, including staff injuries or near-misses.
- Feedback from staff to identify equipment and patient handling issues.
- On-going coordination with other unit champions including pressure ulcers, falls and infection prevention champions.
The facility has processes in place to address safe patient handling physical environment issues on an on-going basis, including:
- During all remodeling or reconstruction of patient care areas as recommended by the safe Patient Handling committee and outlined in the program plan.
- In response to issues identified through injury data.
- In response to new technology evaluation and/or purchase.
- Incorporation in regular environmental rounds, e.g., include safe patient handling considerations in falls environmental safety rounds.
- A process to implement recommendations resulting from environmental safety rounds.