Education team leads to high performance in safe patient handling

Education team leads to high performance in safe patient handling

group of PEEPS educators
Injury Prevention/PEEPS educators Allison Steuber, BSN, RN, Rick Zock, MS, PT, CEAS, Kavitha Padmanaban, BSN, RN, CEAS, Terri Burgess, MS, PT, CEAS, and Linda V. Sanderson, MSN, RN, CRNI, CEAS.

Christiana Care is one of the best-equipped hospitals in the nation for safe patient handling. But few hospitals complement equipment with education as well as we do, and fewer still have a dedicated in-house employee-injury-prevention team, underscoring Christiana Care’s leadership in putting safety first.

In a hospital, “patient handling” is the term used to describe the process of moving patients, such as when a patient needs bathing, wound care, linen changes or to be transferred from one bed to another. According to a report by the American Nurses Association, more than one-third of back injuries among nurses have been associated with patient handling.

When the American Nurses Association reviews Christiana Care’s recent applications for the Handle with Care™ Recognition Program, The Employee Injury Prevention/PEEPS© educator team is sure to make the ANA surveyors stand up and take notice.

The acronym PEEPS stands for: patient, environment, equipment, posture, safety.

A team of five PEEPS educators—two physical therapists and three registered nurses—round regularly, observing patient handling in action. They instruct staff on equipment use and keeping themselves safe while working. They teach classes, conduct annual competencies and have even created a PEEPS home page and intranet-based education module, complete with instructional videos as quickly accessible educational resources.

One of the team’s critical roles is to perform follow-up assessments when injuries happen and tailor education to ensure safer practices. They also resolve issues, such as sling supply, to help the system work more efficiently and respond to specific needs of each unit or department.

Blending knowledge of physical therapists and nurses

By blending the physical therapy and nursing disciplines, the education team collectively presents the best of both disciplines in safe patient handling. Physical therapists are skilled in ergonomics and body mechanics, and are able to help assess and direct the safest way to move a patient based on mobility, strength, range and tone. Nurses understand when, how and why staff at the bedside need to move a patient for tasks such as bathing, wound care, linen changes or catheterization. Together, they develop educational programs and offer creative suggestions to help staff use equipment to make their jobs safer and more efficient.

The nurses emphasize that slings enhances nursing care by making bedside practices easier on both the staff member and the patient, and ultimately reduce repositioning and transfer injuries.