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How to Safely Lift a Patient From the Floor

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

A patient fall only takes a second to happen, but the consequences can be lasting or permanent. With the high incidence of patient falls in healthcare, knowing how to lift a patient from the floor is a critical skill for every caregiver. Correctly managing a patient who has just fallen can help reduce the effects of the fall and ensure their safety afterward.

The emphasis on safely lifting patients who have just fallen cannot be stressed enough. In this article, we explore comprehensive steps and best practices for lifting a patient from the floor and the undeniable importance of responding swiftly and adeptly to falls.

Why Falls Happen and the Importance of Fall Response

Research shows that patient falls remain a prevalent concern in healthcare settings. Many facilities focus on preventing falls; however, despite providers’ best efforts, falls can still occur. Acknowledging falls may still occur and working to reduce injuries related to falls has become a successful strategy.   When they happen, a quick and skilled response to these falls is paramount for patient well-being. Safely lifting patients after a fall not only minimizes further injuries but can significantly impact the speed and quality of their recovery.

Pre-lifting Assessment

Before you lift a patient from the floor, it’s essential to assess the patient and plan the lift. Important components of a pre-lifting assessment include:

  • Communicating with the patient – Gauge the patient’s pain level and provide reassurance. Provide clear instructions and be sure to inform the patient before attempting to move them.
  • Assessing for patient injury – Check for any obvious injuries that may affect lifting the patient. Assess for any underlying health conditions contributing to the fall that may also affect the lift.
  • Performing a safety check – Examine the surroundings and ensure there are no safety concerns prior to lifting. Remove obstacles and ensure a clear area for lifting if possible.
  • Obtaining necessary equipment – Ensure equipment is present to help reduce strain on healthcare providers and ensure stability and safety during the lift. Depending on the patient’s condition and weight, equipment like hoists, or air assist devices might be needed.

The Basics of Ergonomics in Patient Lifting

Lifting a patient involves more than just using strength; it’s about technique and ergonomics. Using good ergonomics can help prevent injury as well as improve how effective your efforts are. The core principles of basic ergonomics include:

  • Proper posture – Always maintain a straight back, keep weight close to you with a firm comfortable grip, bend at the knees, and lift using your legs, not your back.
  • Teamwork – If the patient is unable to cooperate, or limited in their mobility, it’s safer to conduct the lift with another caregiver.
  • Leveraging technology – Mechanical lifts can significantly reduce the physical strain on caregivers and make the lifting process safer.

Steps to Lift a Patient From the Floor

To safely lift a patient from the floor, there are several steps you should follow.

  1. Preparation – Clear any hazards and make sure the lift will be safe for both the patient and caregiver(s). Identify and plan path for transfer. Explain to the patient what they should expect.
  2. Positioning – Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Ensure the patient is in a comfortable and safe position. When using a lift device, ensure the equipment and/or lift sling are positioned correctly.
  3. Lifting – Use the lift device to lift the patient slowly and smoothly. Check on the patient regularly and maintain their safety throughout the entire lift.
  4. Transitioning – Safely move the patient to desired location, be it a bed, chair, or stretcher.
  5. Post-lift assessment – Ensure the patient is secure, stable, and comfortable after the transition.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

When you lift a patient from the floor, there are some common mistakes that you should be aware of and avoid, such as:

  • Over-reliance on manual strength – Lifting equipment should be used as much as possible to avoid physical strain on the caregivers.
  • Manually lifting – Lifting with a bent back can cause severe injuries to the caregiver.
  • Skipping steps – Rushing through or skipping any step can jeopardize the safety of both the patient and caregiver.
  • Reliance on ‘safe lifting’ techniques – There is no safe way to manually lift a patient, and relying solely on “safe” manual lifting techniques should be avoided.

The Role of Training and Equipment in Safely Lifting Patients

Proper patient lifting goes beyond mere technique; it requires skill, preparation, and the right tools.

  • Professional training – Engaging in specialized training programs can significantly enhance caregivers’ lifting techniques.
  • Investing in quality equipment – Quality equipment, like those provided by Joerns, such as the Camel, ensures patient safety and reduces risks.

Why Choose Joerns for Safe Patient Handling

At Joerns, we offer a wide variety of patient-handling equipment and resources that empower healthcare facilities to reliably provide safe patient care. Numerous healthcare professionals vouch for the quality and dependability of Joerns’ equipment, emphasizing their role in safer patient lifts and transfers.


Knowing how to lift a patient from the floor safely is non-negotiable in healthcare settings. Through high-quality training coupled with top-tier equipment, patient safety can be significantly enhanced. We invite you to consider collaborating with Joerns to ensure the safety of each patient lift in your facility.

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