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Mechanical lifts can endanger residents

December 2, 2014
by Sandra Hoban, Managing Editor
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Safe lifting is the bottom line when transferring residents. Mechanical lifts, although possibly more efficient, can pose safety hazards of their own. A recent news report by an ABC affiliate in Tennessee described an incident involving a bedridden woman who was injured when she slipped out of the device’s sling and fell to the floor.

The incident was caught on a camera the family had installed. Footage shows the woman’s IV line being pulled during the lifting process. It was when the aide turned to untangle the line that the woman slipped from the harness and fell to the floor.

In long-term care, nurses and aides are trained on operating these devices and to inspect the straps and slings from signs of wear. Proper positioning of the resident also is part of basic training on mechanical lift operation.

A resident’s condition, capabilities and needs all contribute to the determination of whether a mechanical transfer is appropriate, according to the Safe Lifting News.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a booklet, “Safe Lifting and Movement in Nursing Homes,”  as a training tool to ensure that healthcare workers are aware of the dangers of improper operation and learn best practices to have successful transfers.

Whether the aide in the news report had any training on the particular lift used or any training whatsoever is a question, I can’t answer.


Sandra Hoban

Managing Editor

Sandra Hoban


Sandra Hoban has been on Long-Term Living’s editorial staff for 17 years. She is one of...