Effect of a Safe Patient Handling Program on Rehabilitation Outcomes

Published:September 06, 2012DOI:



      To evaluate the effect of a safe patient handling (SPH) program on rehabilitation mobility outcomes.


      Retrospective cohort study.


      A rehabilitation unit in a hospital system.


      Consecutive patients (N=1291) over a 1-year period without an SPH program in place (n=507) and consecutive patients over a 1-year period with an SPH program in place (n=784).


      The SPH program consisted of administrative policies and patient handling technologies. The policies limited manual patient handling. Equipment included ceiling- and floor-based dependent lifts, sit-to-stand assists, ambulation aides, friction-reducing devices, motorized hospital beds and shower chairs, and multihandled gait belts.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The mobility subscale of the FIM.


      Patients rehabilitated in the group with SPH achieved similar outcomes to patients rehabilitated in the group without SPH. A significant difference between groups was noted for patients with initial mobility FIM scores of 15.1 and higher after controlling for initial mobility FIM score, age, length of stay, and diagnosis. Those patients performed better with SPH.


      SPH programs do not appear to inhibit recovery. Fears among therapists that the use of equipment may lead to dependence may be unfounded.


      List of abbreviations:

      BMI (body mass index), SPH (safe patient handling)
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