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Patient Safety: Pay Now or Pay Later

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, July 2, 2013

"We can't afford these losses and still meet the rising demands for healthcare services," Daley emphasized.  

The idea that losses from injuries add up financially for hospitals and the healthcare system at large is an important one for demonstrating the business case for implementing the new standards, including the use of technology.  

Robert Williamson, MS, BSN, RN, CWCP, director of associate safety at Ascension Health and the current president of the Association of Safe Patient Handling Professionals, said that the constant shuffling of work schedules to adjust for workers who have been injured takes not only a physical and emotional toll, but a financial one. He argues that the cost of lost worker productivity is much greater than the cost of technology to help prevent it.  

"We know that the resources that are spent managing and caring for these injuries are great," he said.

Beyond the physical and financial benefits of technology, Ronda Fritz, MA, BSN, RN, Safe Patient Handling Facility Champion at the VA-Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System, says that tools such as ceiling lifts and seated slings can help preserve patient dignity—and likely improve their satisfaction, too.

"Instead of calling four or five staff into a room to position or lift a patient of size, the healthcare worker simply uses a technology to safely and discreetly move them," Fritz said. "The first time we used the lift and sling to assist with an ultrasound procedure for a 640-pound patient, she cried tears of relief and thanked us for not embarrassing her by bringing in six extra sets of hands to position her and expose her. She stated that the technology used was comfortable and much more dignified."

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