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Choosing the Right Patient Handling Equipment for Your Facility

Written by: Michael Fragala, PhD, MBA, RN, WCC, CSPHP, AMS

Handling patients is a key aspect of providing basic patient care. Providing for patients’ safety and comfort during this process is essential. While most facilities recognize that using mechanical lifts provides safety and comfort during transfers, achieving this goal relies on selecting the right patient-handling equipment. The choices a facility makes in this selection process play not only a significant impact on patient safety but also the health of our healthcare providers and the overall efficiency of the facility.

The Importance of Patient-Handling Equipment in Healthcare

Patient-handling equipment plays a vital role in any facility’s daily operations. These devices ensure patients’ safety and comfort while promoting mobility and independence. Almost every patient transfers multiple times a day, making it essential to have the right tools in place to help with the most difficult of these transfers.

While patient-handling equipment is vital to patient safety, these tools also help prevent injuries to healthcare workers. Manual lifting often involves unnatural lifting situations involving a large amount of weight and can lead to back injuries or muscle strain. Implementing even simple patient safety devices, such as the Swift offered by Joerns, can significantly reduce the risks associated with transfers.

Key Factors to Consider When Selecting Patient-Handling Equipment

When selecting patient-handling equipment, understanding the unique needs of your facility is paramount. Consider your patient demographics, their weight, mobility level, and the specific care they require. From this, you can determine which types of transfers are most likely to occur and the associated risks. Considering your patient demographics will also help you to determine the volume of transfers and ensure you have enough equipment to meet these needs.

Also, remember to evaluate your healthcare providers’ needs and capabilities, ensuring that you have their input during each phase of the selection process. Having provider involvement during selection will help ensure that any equipment you obtain is user-friendly, helping to prevent misuse or accidents. Finally, consider the durability of the equipment and how easy it is to maintain, as this will impact long-term efficiency, value, and safety.

Understanding Different Types of Patient-Handling Equipment

Commonly used patient-handling equipment varies based on the type of transfers the equipment is used for. Common patient safety devices include:

  • Hoists – Hoists are used to mechanically lift a patient and move them to another location. Hoists can completely bear all the weight of a patient or can bear just part of their body weight, allowing them to participate in the transfer.
  • Slings – Slings are typically coupled with hoists and actually hold the patient. Multiple types of slings can be used with a single hoist depending on the purpose. Different slings allow transfers in a lying position, a sitting position, or even accommodate transfers to and use of a toilet while in the sling.
  • Transfer chairs – Transfer chairs allow someone to be transferred from one location to another. This can include wheelchairs but also include a variety of more complex equipment that meet specific needs or situations.
  • Lateral transfer devices – Lateral transfer devices reduce friction during side-to-side movement, allowing someone to be easily transferred from their bed to another flat surface. These devices include slide boards, air-assisted lateral transfer devices, and patient transfer slide sheets.

One of the benefits of provider involvement during any equipment selection process is that you can ensure you are pairing the correct equipment with the specific needs of your facility.

Selecting Patient-Handling Equipment Vendors

When selecting a vendor, there are many important factors to consider. These include:

  • The reputation of the vendor
  • The service they provide during the purchasing process
  • The support during implementation and on an ongoing basis
  • The pricing for the equipment and services that support it.

It’s also important that the vendor provides comprehensive user manuals and proper training for new equipment. Joerns stands out in these areas, offering not only high-quality patient-handling equipment but also exceptional after-sale service and support.

Importance of Regular Training and Maintenance

Regular training for healthcare providers ensures that staff use patient-handling equipment safely and effectively. Routine maintenance and safety checks are also critical for prolonging the equipment’s lifespan and maintaining its functionality. When equipment is correctly maintained and staff know how to use it correctly, almost any potential downsides or complications relating to lifting equipment can be avoided.


Choosing the right patient-handling equipment for your healthcare facility is a crucial task impacting the safety of your patients, the efficiency of your staff, and the financial well-being of your facility. You should ultimately only make your decision after careful consideration and research.

As you consider your options, remember that you’re not alone in this process. Reach out to trusted experts like those at Joerns for support with safe patient handling. With their extensive experience and commitment to patient safety, Joerns can guide you to the right equipment solutions for your facility. Don’t hesitate—contact Joerns today to ensure the best possible care for your patients.

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