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Illinois Legislation Seeks to Improve Safety in Lifting and Moving Patients

In a hospital or a nursing home, falls are always a concern. This is especially the case when people are weak and frail, as well as when they are quite heavy.

Failure to prevent falls can be a form of hospital or nursing home negligence.

Finally, at least some care facilities in Illinois are paying more attention to the lifting issues involved with obese patients.

For example, a hospital in Joliet, Provena St. Joseph Medical Center, now uses a mechanized device that looks like a hammock to transfer heavy patients from a bed to a chair. In the past, with people upwards of 250 pounds, such a move would have involved numerous staff members.

Using a mechanical sling can not only be safer; it can also help preserve the dignity of a patient who may be very self-conscious about being so dependent on others.

Illinois hospitals that are being more proactive about moving patients are not doing it solely out of the goodness of their administrators' hearts, however. A state law that was passed three years ago requires hospitals to create strategies designed to reduce risk of injuries when patients are moved.

The law is supposed to safeguard not only patients, but caregivers as well.

In 2011, the legislature amended the law to add a requirement that workers engage in dialog with patients about moving procedures. Patients are also supposed to be allowed input into the process.

Last month, the legislature amended the law again. The new provision, which has been sent to Gov. Pat Quinn for action, would put in place mandatory training for workers at long-term care facilities on safe techniques and appropriate equipment for lifting patients.

Source: "Patients get a lift with growing health care movement," Chicago Tribune, Annemarie Mannion, 7-4-12

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