Do special devices to help lift and move patients result in fewer injuries for nurses?

Not necessarily. A recent study compared three groups of nurses and nurses' aides who had different access to patient handling equipment. The first group relied heavily on patient handling equipment. They didn't do any strenuous lifting for a year. The second group used some equipment and practiced safe lifting for a year. The last group did their jobs as usual, without special equipment.

Nurses and aides who didn't do any strenuous lifting had the same number of injuries as the other groups. However, their injuries were less likely to affect the back or torso. Workers in this group more often injured their arms or necks. In contrast, 75 percent of injuries among nurses who didn't use the devices were back injuries.

Though the number of injuries didn't change, the authors found that patient handling equipment created a healthier work environment overall. Nurses and aides who used this equipment were less worn out from their jobs. They also felt safer and more comfortable while they worked.