Myth-buster: Patients like ergo equipment lifts

Survey shows comfort level with devices

Myth: Patients won’t like being transferred with lift equipment. They prefer the hands-on touch of nursing staff.

Duke University Health System, based in Durham, NC, busted this common assumption about ergonomic equipment with a patient satisfaction survey that showed patients like the mechanical lift devices.

Some 87% of patients said they were "very comfortable" or "mostly comfortable" when transferred with lift devices, says Tamara James, MA, CPE, ergonomics director in the department of occupational and environmental safety at Duke. Only 80% felt comfortable with manual lifts.

Although those differences aren’t enough statistically to claim victory for lifts over manual efforts, the survey shows that patients are at least as happy to be transferred with ergonomic equipment, says James, who presented her preliminary results at the recent Safe Patient Handling and Movement Conference in Orlando.

The conference was sponsored by the VHA Patient Safety Center at the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital in Tampa and the American Nurses Association in Washington, DC.

With the help of a "Best Practices" research grant from the patient satisfaction firm Press Ganey Associates, based in South Bend, IN, Duke randomly surveyed 100 patients discharged from a unit that used lift devices and 100 patients in a different general medicine unit that did not use devices.

The survey spanned a three-month period and represented one-fourth of the discharges in those units during that time frame.

There were no differences in the patients’ fear of falling, feelings of being treated with respect, or amount of time they had to wait for transfers. Anecdotally, the patients told nurses they felt secure with the mechanical lifts. "They heard from patients how much they loved the equipment," James adds.

The results of the study have helped gain administration support for lift equipment, and the hospital is now considering installing ceiling lifts, she says.