Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPHM) - Public Health
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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

A nurse is using a ceiling lift to safely move a man into a hospital bed

Ceiling lift

Safe Patient Handling and Mobility technology can make it safe for staff and patients to mobilize without injury.

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. In the home,

SPHM technology can preserve independence and mobility to improve quality of life. 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.

For health care professionals and organizations looking for VA resources: 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 and Tampa VA Research and Education Foundation.

A nurse is using a ceiling lift to support a patient walking

For Veterans and families: Our Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Mobile App can show you a variety of safe patient handling and mobility options and lead you through the process of determining what is needed. More information is available at the Veterans Health Library.

For contractors and planners: Guidelines and required ceiling lift checklists are found below. VA design and construction standards, including SPHM criteria, are found in the Office of Construction & Facilities Management Technical Information Library (TIL).

Guidelines

For questions about VA Safe Patient Handling and Mobility, you may contact VHASPHM@va.gov.

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