Acute Care

Safe Patient Handling – Acute Care

Safe Patient Handling (SPH) is a “Must Do” for clinical providers in Oregon hospitals.

The primary reasons to develop your own safe patient handling program include:

  • Strengthens your existing patient safety efforts for clinical care
  • Promotes a safety culture for your employees and staff
  • Provides increased job satisfaction which impacts workforce retention
  • Decreases employee compensation claims by providing the appropriate tools and techniques for safe patient handling

Several Oregon hospitals are already on board with this effort. Do your part in making Oregon a leader in safe patient handling!

On this page:

Guidelines & Toolkits for Implementing SPH Programs
White Papers
Other Resources

Guidelines and Toolkits for Implementing SPH Programs

ANA National Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Standards and Implementation Guide 

The Healthcare Recipient Sling and Lift Hanger Bar Compatibility Guidelines. American Association for Safe Patient Handling and Movement (AASPHM).  The goal of the guidelines is to provide information and recommendations about the compatibility of healthcare recipient (patient) slings and lift hanger bars. These will assist healthcare facilities and organizations, healthcare workers, sling and lift manufacturers, and retailers to facilitate safe use of slings and lift hanger bars in any setting where healthcare recipients are lifted, moved and mobilized. Download the Guidelines.

Visit the Hospital and Worker Culture of Safety webpage from the Washington State Hospital Association. You can download a variety of new health care safety and safe patient handling resources.

Click here to access a variety of tools to assist with implementing a SPH program from the VA Sunshine Health Care Network – VISN 8 Patient Safety Center of Inquiry, Tampa, FL such as:


  • Patient Care Ergonomics Resource Guide: Safe Patient Handling and Movement.
  • Algorithms for Patient Handling
  • Facility Safe Patient Handling Policy Draft
  • Safety Huddle – method of knowledge transfer
  • Communication Strategies Presentations
  • Safe Patient Handling Guidebook for Facility Champions/Coordinators
  • Safe Patient Handling Unit Binder for Peer Leaders & Staff
  • Comprehensive Safe Patient Handling Bibliography – Articles Published by the VISN 8 Patient Safety Center of Inquiry Staff, Tampa, FL
  • Other VA Toolkits/Resources

Safe Patient Handling Program Resource Guide. Developed by the SPH team at Good Shepherd Medical Center, Hermiston, OR as part of a SPH pilot program funded by grants awarded from Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) New Jan 2013

Health care sites pilot new approaches for worker safety

Safe Patient Handling resources from the American Nurses Association.

Beyond Getting Started: A Resource Guide for Implementing a Safe Patient Handling Program in the Acute Care Setting (see Appendix B for a sample policy, Developed by the AOHP OSHA Alliance Implementation Team).

Safe Patient Handling and Movement in the Perioperative setting (2007) from the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN).

Safe Patient Handling & Movement in the Orthopedic Setting (2008) Algorithms for handling and movement of orthopedic patients from theNational Association of Orthopedic Nurses (NAON).

HealthCare Wide Hazards Module -Ergonomics from Federal OSHA

Injury Prevention Resources for Health Care – Patient Handling WorkSafeBC  Extensive resources related to patient handling in Acute Care, Long Term Care and Home Health. Includes video and PowerPoint training tools New Jan 2013

Safe Patient Handling in Health Care: Applied Ergonomics for Nurses and Health Care Workers and Patient Orientation (2004). This training program consists of DVD training materials for both employees and patients. A 10 minute video for patients and families provides an overview of equipment  commonly used in hospitals and long term care facilities. Contact Oregon OSHA Resource center to obtain a copy of the complete training set.

Worker Safety in Hospitals a resource from OSHA to prevent worker injuries, help patients and save resources for hospitals. Click here for more information.

White Papers

Ergonomics -manual handling of people in the healthcare sector. ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) technical report ISO/TR 12296:2012 on  Click here for an edited summary of the report from the Gettinge Group.

Safe Patient Handling: A Summary of the Issue and Solutions: The Evidence Base (2009). Enos, L. A summary of current literature and data about Safe Patient Handling related issues developed for the Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS). Includes an extensive reference list.

Safe Patient Handling: A Report, March 2006. Peter D. Hart Research Associates. Conducted on behalf of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Healthcare

Improving Patient and Worker Safety: Opportunities for Synergy, Collaboration and Innovation (2012). Safe Patient Handling is discussed in Chapter 3.The Joint Commission. New Jan 2013

Articles & Publications

The American Journal of Safe Patient Handling & Movement (SPHM) is the first journal of its kind in the USA devoted to the subject of safe patient handling and movement and provides a forum for the latest research and evidence on the how, why, and what in this area of practice. Article manuscripts can be emailed to the Editor-in-Chief at [email protected].New Jan 2013

The Illustrated Guide to Safe Patient Handling and Movement (2009). Nelson, A.L., Motacki , K, Menzel, N. New York, NY. Springer Publishing.

Safe Patient Handling and Movement: A Practical Guide for Health Care Professionals (2006). Audrey Nelson Editor. Springer Publishing.

Back Injury among Healthcare Workers: Causes, Solutions, and Impacts (2004). W. Charney & A Hudson. CRC Press.

Development and evaluation of a multifaceted ergonomics program to prevent injuries associated with patient handling tasks.(2006). Nelson, A, et al. International Journal of Nursing Studies, August 2006, 43(6).

Development of the National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses Guidance Statement on Safe Patient Handling and Movement in the Orthopaedic Setting (2009). Sedlak, C et al. Orthopaedic Nursing 28(S2): S2-S8.

Evidence-Based Practices for Safe Patient Handling and Movement (2004). Nelson, A. & Baptiste, A. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. Vol. #9 No. 3.

Evidence-Based Patient Handling, Tasks, Equipment and Interventions (2003). Sue Hignett et al. Taylor and Francis or

Factors Associated With Safe Patient Handling Behaviors Among Critical Care Nurses (2010). Lee, S.J. et al. American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 53:886-897, 2010.

Longitudinal Relationship of Work Hours, Mandatory Overtime, and On-call to Musculoskeletal Problems in Nurses (2006). Trinkoff, A., et. al. American Journal of Industrial Medicine 49:964–971.

Musculoskeletal Injuries Resulting From Patient Handling Tasks Among Hospital Workers (2009).Pompeii, L.A., et al. AMERICAN JOURNAL OF INDUSTRIAL MEDICINE 52:571–578 (2009).

Patient Handling: Fact vs. Fiction ( 2010). Howard, N. American Nurse Today. 5(7):32-34.

Preventing Back Injuries in Healthcare Settings from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) (2008).

Patient Handling Tasks with High Risk for Musculoskeletal Disorders in Critical Care (2007). Waters, T., Nelson, A., & Proctor, C. Crit Care Nurs Clin N Am 19: 131–143.

Recommendations for Turning Patients With Orthopaedic Impairment (2009).  Gonzalez, C.M., et al. Orthopaedic Nursing 28(s2):S9-S12.

Recommendations for Vertical Transfer of a Postoperative Total Hip Replacement Patient (Bed to Chair, Chair to Toilet, Chair to Chair, or Car to Chair (2009). Gonzalez, C.M., et al. Orthopaedic Nursing 28(s2):S13-S17.

Safe Ambulation of an Orthopaedic Patient (2009). Radawiec, S. et al. Orthopaedic Nursing 28(S2): S24-S27.

Safe Patient Handling (2007), Nelson, A et. al. Nursing Management, March 2007:26-33.

Safe Patient Handling and Movement in a Pediatric Setting (2009). Motacki, K & Motakci, L.M. Pediatr Nurs. 2009;35(4)

Safe Patient Handling Equipment Challenges in Inpatient Psychiatric Units: Design Recommendations and Potential Solutions (2011). Monaghan, H.VISN 8 Patient Safety Center of Inquiry, Tampa.

Safe Vertical Transfer of Patient With Extremity Cast or Splint (2009). Patterson, M et al. Orthopaedic Nursing 28: s18-s23.

Strengthening Your Evidence Base: Focus on Safe Patient Handling(2010). Menzel, N. & Nelson, A American Nurse Today. 5(7):38-40.

The Working Back: A Systems View (2008). William S. Marras. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.,

Underreporting of Musculoskeletal Disorders among Health Care Workers: Research Needs (2008). Menzel,N. AAOHN Journal, 56 (12): 487-493.

When is it Safe to Manually Lift a Patient? (2007).Waters, T.R. American Journal of Nursing, 107(8), 53-59.

Workplace Prevention and Musculoskeletal Injuries in Nurses (2003). Trinkoff, A.M., Brady, B., & Nielsen, K. J Nurs Adm, 33(3):153-158.

Hospital emergency

Other Resources

Assess Every Time from WorkSafeBC. This video reviews a quick assessment of a patient's physical and cognitive abilities that should be performed before moving a patient. A discussion guide is also included.

The American Association for Safe Patient Handling and Movement (AASPHM) A resource to advance the practice of safe patient handling & movement through collaboration, professional development, and research initiatives.

A Back Injury Prevention Guide For Health Care Providers from the Californian Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA)

Ergoweb supports the ergonomics community with industry news, resources and a collaboration community. Various articles and resources.

The FDA patient lift website

Handle With Care, Patient Handling and the Application of Ergonomics Requirements and other SPH program tools from WorkSafe BC

Lifting Patients/Residents/Clients in Health Care, Washington State 2005 the final report from the WA State Lifting in Health Care Task Force that contains case studies and data from health care facilities in the state. Note: The link is to the report summary only, please contact SHARP for the entire report - Phone: 1-888-66-SHARP (toll-free) or 360-902-5667 or E-mail [email protected]

Safe Patient Handling in Washington State - A Clearing House for SPH information and the WA state SPH law

Reference Guidelines for Safe Patient Handling from the Occupational Health & Safety Agency for Healthcare in British Columbia (OHSAH)

Transferring People Safely, 2009 from WorkSafe Victoria, Australia

Washington State Dept. of Labor and Industries Ergo Ideas Bank – Search for healthcare -Topics include patient handling and more.

Success Stories

St. Charles Medical Center, Bend, OR.

Safe Patient Handling pilot program - Ortho Neuro Unit

Two years after implementation of a SPH pilot program:

  • Injury costs reduced by 58% to $54,198
  • Return on investment: 5.05 months

For more information contact: Theresa Kramer, MS, PT, Injury Prevention Program Coordinator, Cascade Healthcare. Email:[email protected]

Good Shepherd Medical Center, Hermiston, OR

No injuries related to patient handling have been reported since implementation of the SPH program in August 2008.

For more information contact: Vicki Horneck, MS, RN, Nurse Manager & SPH Coordinator. Email:[email protected]

In 2010 the OCHE conducted a survey to'Investigate the Status of Safe Patient Handling Programs in Acute Care and Safe Resident Handling Programs in Long Term Care facilities in Oregon'  View the results of this survey here