Lift Machines Paying Off for Hospitals

By Staff Report

May. 28, 2004

Nurses are experiencing fewer injuries at some hospitals because of investments in patient-lifting machines, according to the Charleston Post and Courier.
Jim Jones, vice president of human resources at the Trident Health System, says Trident spent about $265,000 on lift equipment 18 months ago. In one year, injuries were down 30 percent, and are down another 8 percent so far this year.
Several factors have made hospitals more dangerous in recent years. Patients are bigger; the ones that end up in the hospital are sicker and less mobile than in years past; and nurses overall are older. At the Roper St. Francis hospital system, injuries have tripled in the past year and a half, and workers’ comp claims have increased from $800,000 to $1.2 million over the last 11 months.
The American Nurses Association is campaigning to get hospitals to invest in patient-lifting equipment. Judy Thompson, executive director of the South Carolina Nurses Association, told the Post and Courier that hospitals have essentially been penny wise but pound foolish. They’ve avoided buying equipment in order to save money, but in the end have paid the price in the form of high workers’ comp claims and rising turnover among nurses.
According to 2002 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in hospitals the annual rate of nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses is 9.7 per 100 full-time employees. In coal mines, there are 6.8 annual nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses for each 100 employees.

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