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Technology renders manual lifting of special needs individuals obsolete

Assistive patient handling equipment and devices have rendered strict manual patient handling an unnecessary function of nursing care. Equally as important, the use of mechanical lifts, electric hoyer lifts, and portable hoyer lifts can substantially reduce patient skin tears along with the frequency of patients being dropped.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health specifies that in institutions lifting equipment should be used when a patient or patient limb weighs more than 35 pounds. Health care workers can use a lift, perhaps even on mounted into the ceiling, with a pediatric patient sling for lifting and moving the child. A variety of vendors supply pediatric slings as well as tools for measuring the slings. Technology like an electric hoyer lift can also be used in pediatric home care.

Children with special needs are often discharged home with their parents and have resources, such as a visiting nurse or a home health aide. The same safe lifting protocols and techniques should be used for safe lifting in the home setting to benefit the health care worker as well as family members who care for the child.

There is also a great need for safe lifting equipment like a portable hoyer lift in the school setting. Children may require lifting and moving several times during the day so that their medical needs can be met. The same safe lifting principles used with the nursing care of patients on a medical/surgical unit would apply. The Patient Assessment Tool and the Generic Algorithms should also be used.