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Use of Mechanical Patient Lifts Decreased Musculoskeletal Symptoms and Injuries Among Health Care Workers

Originally Published:
Key Point Summary
Key Concepts/Context

Healthcare workers experience high rates of work-related musculoskeletal injuries, which are often the result of the frequent patient lifting and transferring required of healthcare workers. Studies suggest that mechanical patient lifts can help reduce musculoskeletal injury rates.


This study evaluated the effectiveness of mechanical patient lifts in reducing musculoskeletal symptoms, injuries, lost workday injuries, and workers’ compensation costs in workers at a community hospital.


This pre/post intervention study took place in three nursing units—medicine/surgery, intensive care unit, and subacute care—of a 111-bed community hospital in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri where no mechanical patient lifts had been used before the study.

Design Implications
To increase mechanical lift use compliance, there must be appropriate availability, access, and maneuvering space. Further, special considerations must be given to lifts for patients in isolation, since each use required that parts of the lift be cleaned or laundered. 

Reductions were observed in injury rates, lost workday injury rates, workers’ compensation costs, and musculoskeletal symptoms after deployment of mechanical patient lifts.


Generalizability is limited by the small scale of the community setting, the limited number of injury cases available, and a low survey response rate.

Design Category
Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment (FF&E)
Outcome Category
Organizational outcomes|Staff health outcomes
Primary Author
Li, J.