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Hospital Emphasizes Safer Patient Handling


by Nat Frothingham


Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) — now formally a part of the University of Vermont Health Network — has made and is making a significant investment in safe patient handling and mobility.

CVMC’s heightened commitment to these issues — called MAPS (Moving All Patients Safely) — got its start in October 2014 with the acquisition of new patient handling and moving equipment and staff training throughout the hospital involving more than 400 staff members in such departments as transport, radiology, rehab therapy and nursing. The heightened commitment to safe patient handling will benefit both patients and health care staff and addresses a number of current concerns.

According to a CVMC news release, “Out-patient services have expanded and patients in hospitals are those who are too sick to go through an out-patient department.”  Another issue facing hospitals today is sicker patients and larger patients.  In the words of the CVMC press release, “Obesity is a problem throughout the United States and is reflected in larger people in our patient population.”

Because hospital patients today are “sicker and larger” this is having impacts on the health care professionals who lift, turn, boost and move patients.  Similar programs such as MAPS in some 800 hospital facilities have led to an average 84 percent reduction in the number of patient handling injuries to health care staff.

According to Robert Patterson, CVMC’s vice president of rehabilitation therapy and human resources, the already-started MAPS program will be rolled out over three years and will pay for new equipment and clinical support at an approximate cost of $500,000.  CVMC estimates a return on that investment in approximately 18 months with better mobility outcomes for patients and sharp reductions in the number of patient handling related injuries to health care staff.

According to the CVMC release the average nurse lifts about 1 and ½ tons during a working shift.  “That’s about the weight of a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle…”