Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPHM)
Safe patient handling and mobility involves the use of assistive devices to ensure that patients can be mobilized safely and that care providers avoid performing high-risk manual patient handling tasks. Using the devices reduces a care provider’s risk of injury and improves the safety and quality of patient care.
A Safe Lift for Providers and Patients
The Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Program at VA utilizes proven methods and the latest specialized devices and equipment to keep Veterans and staff safe when patients need to be moved and lifted.
The most important assistive device is ceiling lifts that help care providers transfer Veterans from beds to stretchers or wheelchairs and can even help them walk. Portable devices can be moved from room to room. The lifting equipment uses slings or vests to hold patients securely and reduce the risk of slipping, falling or being dropped when walking. The program has led to an over 40 percent reduction in injuries to care providers since 2006.
SPHM technology can be used to mobilize patients easily, gently, earlier and progressively without risking injury to patients or caregivers. Using SPHM technology in early and progressive mobility programs promotes preservation of patient functional status and improves clinical outcomes.
Other important parts of the program are: ergonomic assessment of patient rooms and facilities; clinical/patient assessment algorithms to select the right equipment and number of staff for each patient handling and mobility task; unit peer leaders who function as safe patient handling experts and staff trainers; and use of safety huddles to share information between staff that will keep staff and patients safe. Facility coordinators at each site sustain the program by making sure the right technology is available, the staff is competent, and needs are met.
Learn more about safe patient handling and mobility programs, implementation, patient care ergonomic assessments, and patient handling and mobility technology from the VA Sunshine Healthcare Network Patient Safety Center of Inquiry.
- Patient Handling (Lifting) Equipment Coverage & Space Recommendations (1.01 MB, PDF)
Guidelines for equipment used for patient-handling that addresses coverage and installation issues surrounding ceiling-mounted lifts, and coverage and storage issues for portable/floor-based lifts
- VHA Directive 2010-032 - Safe Patient Handling Program and Facility Design (41 KB, PDF)
Provides background and policy for implementing the Safe Patient Handling Program at Veterans Health Administration facilities
- Patient Handling and Movement Assessments: A White Paper (2.26 MB, PDF)
Contains facility guidelines on conducting a patient handling and movement assessment from the Facilities Guidelines Institute
- VHA Installation and Relocation Checklist for Ceiling Mounted Patient Lifts (152 KB, PDF)
Required checklist for every installation or relocation of a ceiling mounted patient lift in VHA facilities, from National Center for Patient Safety (NCPS) Patient Safety Alert AL14-07
- VHA Corrective and Preventive Maintenance Checklist for Ceiling Mounted Patient Lifts (124 KB, PDF)
Required checklist for every preventive maintenance or significant corrective maintenance of a ceiling mounted patient lift in VHA facilities, from NCPS Patient Safety Alert AL14-07
- Guidebooks are available through the VHA Center for Engineering & Occupational Safety on Safe Patient Handling and Mobility and on Bariatric Safe Patient Handling and Mobility.
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