Lifting and exertion injuries decrease after implementation of an integrated hospital-wide safe patient handling and mobilisation programme

Occup Environ Med. 2017 May;74(5):336-343. doi: 10.1136/oemed-2015-103507. Epub 2016 Oct 25.


Objective: With increasing emphasis on early and frequent mobilisation of patients in acute care, safe patient handling and mobilisation practices need to be integrated into these quality initiatives. We completed a programme evaluation of a safe patient handling and mobilisation programme within the context of a hospital-wide patient care improvement initiative that utilised a systems approach and integrated safe patient equipment and practices into patient care plans.

Methods: Baseline and 12-month follow-up surveys of 1832 direct patient care workers assessed work practices and self-reported pain while an integrated employee payroll and injury database provided recordable injury rates collected concurrently at 2 hospitals: the study hospital with the programme and a comparison hospital.

Results: Safe and unsafe patient handling practice scales at the study hospital improved significantly (p<0.0001 and p=0.0031, respectively), with no differences observed at the comparison hospital. We observed significant decreases in recordable neck and shoulder (Relative Risk (RR)=0.68, 95% CI 0.46 to 1.00), lifting and exertion (RR=0.73, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.89) and pain and inflammation (RR=0.78, 95% CI 0.62 to 1.00) injury rates at the study hospital. Changes in rates at the comparison hospital were not statistically significant.

Conclusions: Within the context of a patient mobilisation initiative, a safe patient handling and mobilisation programme was associated with improved work practices and a reduction in recordable worker injuries. This study demonstrates the potential impact of utilising a systems approach based on recommended best practices, including integration of these practices into the patient's plan for care.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Boston / epidemiology
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Health Personnel
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Moving and Lifting Patients / methods*
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / epidemiology
  • Musculoskeletal Pain / prevention & control*
  • Musculoskeletal System / injuries
  • Occupational Diseases / epidemiology
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Injuries / epidemiology
  • Occupational Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Physical Exertion
  • Program Evaluation
  • Quality Improvement
  • Safety Management / methods*