HOVERTECH International

4 Steps for Starting a Safe Patient Handling & Mobility Program

By Patti Wawzyniecki, MS, CSPHP

Like all important projects, groundwork needs to be completed before you begin asking for equipment and resources. Here are the 4 steps you need to take to successfully begin a Safe Patient Handling & Mobility (SPHM) program within your organization.

Step 1: Establish a broad outline of your SPHM plan, including an initial goal.

This will help you focus your efforts and allow your supporters to see the benefits. The outline should emphasize the scope of the initial program and the savings the organization will achieve. Think of how you can best mesh your SPH efforts with other ongoing safety programs, and ask yourself the following three questions:

  1. What is your organization focusing on right now?
  2. How does SPHM and employee safety fit in with these efforts?
  3.  Will your initial plan be a program within your entire organization, or just a trial within a few units?

Your initial goal needs to be measurable and feasible. It may include establishing a committee (independent or part of a larger committee), upgrading and increasing your inventory of equipment, and/or improving record keeping. Be as specific as you can while keeping your resources in mind.

Step 2: Enlist the support of a stakeholder, champion or senior management supporter within your organization.

The right supporter can move your program from an idea to reality. Does your organization have a risk manager, quality VP and/or nursing director who’s open and driven to protect both patient and employee safety? Other possibilities include an HR manager, or an employee health manager. If you have difficulty, you may need to look for an external supporter, such as your Workers Compensation (WC) insurer. Your WC insurer may be able to open discussions with senior leaders about the cost of injuries to the organization, then link them to you.

Step 3: Gather some preliminary injury data and costs.

This may be a time-consuming task, but don’t give up — it’s vital to your efforts. See what is readily available to you now, then explore how to access all of the data you will need. If you have access to WC costs, you can sort them by activity/task for a total of patient handling costs. If incident descriptions are poor or don’t exist, then you can use industry-wide estimates to measure musculoskeletal or patient handling costs. No WC data yet? – Use your OSHA logs or employee health records. If your employees go to your emergency department or an external provider, investigate accessing their record-keeping system for employee visits and details. The more data you have in your initial proposal, the stronger the business case will be to present to management.

Step 4: Strengthen your qualification and education in SPHM.

Make sure you are up-to-date on the requirements from state, federal, professional and other regulatory organizations that have jurisdiction over your organization. Expand your knowledge and stay current on best practices and new technologies for risk reduction and injury avoidance. Note that new products and changes in recommended practices are advancing rapidly in the field of SPHM. Join a professional organization, and become certified to stay on top of the changes. The stronger your credentials are, the higher your credibility will be within your organization. Keep in mind that OSHA now includes SPHM coordinator credentials in its current inspections of healthcare organizations.

If you’re looking to get certified, visit http://www.asphp.org/.





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