I just received a letter from an occupational health and safety liaison nurse:
As an ex ED/ICU nurse in both NSW and Victoria,( and devoted reader) I have now found myself seconded as the No-Lift co-ordinator of our hospital nursing staff, 3 campuses (campi?), I would like to have dialogue with others in this field as I am finding several areas difficult to crack ( ED still believing their superpowers can elevate!),
Actually, most ED nurses like to keep theirÂ range of superpowers pretty close to their chest lest they fall into the wrong hands. Elevation, extrication, disimpaction, levitation, its all in a days work.
But as a nurse who sustained a painful back injury a while back, the importance of your quest cannot be over emphasized. One second I was bending over to quickly lift a defibrillator off the floor, and the next 2,419,200 seconds I found myself in a world severe pain, totally unable to perform even the simplest of nursing tasks.
Thankfully with a little physiotherapy and some restorative down-time, my back slowly healed. But I was pretty shaken up by it all.
I consider myself a fairly fit sort of bloke, impervious to the back injuries I had seen befall my colleagues.Â But once you do loose the mobility and flexibility of your spine, you very quickly realize what an incredibly physical and dynamic profession we inhabit. Nursing is most definitely a verb.
And it doesn’t just have to be a single handed attempt at hauling that gargantuan flubberatric patient back into bed, an accumulation of I’m far too busy to go and get the lifter micro-injuries, will sooner or later catch up with you.
Once your back is properly buggered, you can pretty much kiss your bedside nursing career goodbye. So learning to care for your back and to lift patients safely is a big deal.
Most hospitals now have strict no-lift policies, providing training and equipment such as slide sheets, lifting aids, electronic beds and and patient transport devices to take the strain off our backs.
In fact,Â learning how to correctly use a set of slide sheets will not only revolutionize your nursing strength, and dramatically extend your nursing used by date, but it will also reduce the incidence of patient pressure areas that result from the shearing forces, and friction inflicted when dragging patients around the bed.
The hard part is disciplining ourselves to use them habitually, breaking down that most ingrained culture of nurse as martyr. “My back is not important right now, what is important is hauling this lady off the bed and onto a commode.”
So, I would love to hear your own stories of lifting, hauling, catching, and pushingÂ catastrophes.
And if you work in a similar role as a No-lift coordinator, and might like to help out Quasimodo (not her real name), drop me a line and I will put you bothÂ in touch.