A Plan To Improve Nurse And Patient Safety


By Boua Xiong

A shortage of nurses is expected to get worse as baby boomers age and the need for health care grows. Making matters worse some nurses are leaving the industry because of work-related injuries. The University of Minnesota school of nursing hopes to turn that around.

Taylor Bezdicek and her classmates are changing the way care is delivered. With the click of a button they are making themselves and patients safer, all part of the U's plan to re-think safe patient handling and mobility.

"It's been mounting for 30 years that there is no safe manual transfer," clinical professor Dr. Mary Rowan said.

Manual transfers, where nurses use their own body strength, results in 35,000 injuries in nurses nationwide each year, according to Rowan. IN addition patients are coming in sicker and heavier she said.

The school partnered with U of M Health and Fairview to teach students how to use mechanical equipment. Fairview implemented their own safe patient handling procedure with similar gear in 2007 after a state law passed mandating all healthcare facilities create one.

"Since then we have seen a huge reduction in our patient handling injuries and just over all staff safety has been huge," Erin Swanson, injury prevention specialist for Fairview said.

The nursing school wants to see the same results. Ceiling lifts make it easy to lift a patient onto a bed. Transferring patients from bed to bed used to take four people. But air-mattress-like-lifts reduce a patient's weight by 90 percent and only takes 2 nurses to lift. These are just some of the many tools these college seniors like Bezdicek are mastering in hopes staying on the job longer.

"Now that I've seen the variety of patients that you're taking care of I definitely think it's great that we have practice with the safe handling equipment," she said.


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