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Safe Patient Handling for Therapists

presented by Michael Fragala & Guy Fragala

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Therapists play an important role in helping patients and residents with movement and mobility, but oftentimes these tasks are beyond the physical capabilities of the individual healthcare worker. This can result in injury for healthcare workers and patients alike. Throughout this course, participants will explore the risks associated with manual patient handling, as well as strategies and technologies to promote safe patient handling. This course also includes a discussion of the importance of a culture of safety when integrating concepts of safe patient handling and mobility.

Meet Your Instructors

  • Michael Fragala, PhD, MBA, RN, WCC, CSPHP, AMS

    Michael Fragala has worked in the healthcare business operations arena for the majority of his career and has served as a Regional Clinical Director, primarily responsible for clinical operations and strategic planning, within national post-acute accounts. Presently Mr. Fragala is employed by Joerns Healthcare overseeing clinical initiatives within national accounts. He has also spent time as a registered nurse, working within both acute and post-acute settings. Mr. Fragala has been serving as an adjunct faculty member at NEC since 2011 and has facilitated many NEC courses, both in the classroom and online. He has taught Strategic Planning and policy, IT Intelligence and business strategy, Organizational Leadership in Technology, and Professional and Organizational ethics, as well as Comparative Health Systems.

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  • Guy Fragala, PhD, PE, CSP, CSPHP

    Dr. Fragala has more than 45 years of experience as an Occupational Safety and Health professional and is currently the Senior Advisor for Ergonomics at the Patient Safety Center of Inquiry in Tampa, Florida. He recently served as Champion for the Creating the Safer Environment Program for Joerns Healthcare and Director of Compliance Programs with Environmental Health and Engineering in Newton, Massachusetts. He is retired from the Faculty and his previous position as the Director of Environmental Health and Safety for the University of Massachusetts Medical Center. Dr. Fragala is a national expert in the application of ergonomics to the health care setting. He has served as an advisor to OSHA regarding the development of the Proposed Ergonomics Standard and was asked to present with the Secretary of Labor at a national press conference when the proposed Standard was released. Dr. Fragala also has experience as a member of the DuPont Corporation’s Corporate Environmental Health and Safety staff and as a Safety Engineer with an international insurance carrier. He has been an advisor to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations and has helped develop and deliver some of their educational offerings. He has been a consultant to a wide range of American industries including many health care organizations, including the Department of Veteran Affairs on the topics of injury prevention and ergonomics. He has served on the faculty of a number of academic institutions, including Harvard University, the University of Wisconsin, the University of Southern California, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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  1. Why is Safe Patient Handling Important?

    1. Why is Safe Patient Handling Important?

    Occupational risk factors of patient handling and mobility include exertion, repetition, posture and duration of exposure. These activities can pose significant risks to therapists as well as their patients. This chapter explores the magnitude of the occupational injury problem, including both direct and indirect costs related to manual patient handling.

  2. Risk Factors and Their Impact

    2. Risk Factors and Their Impact

    Understanding the role of therapy practitioners in identifying risk factors for occupational injury is essential to promoting a culture of safety. The physical exertion required to lift and move patients, the frequency of demands on the therapist and the awkward postures required to conduct patient handling tasks all pose significant risks to patients and healthcare workers alike. This chapter will explore the damaging effects that these types of activities as well as the role of ergonomics and body mechanics in safe patient handling.

  3. Panel Discussion: Perspectives on Safe Patient Handling

    3. Panel Discussion: Perspectives on Safe Patient Handling

    Through a panel discussion of therapists and nurses, this chapter will explore how direct care staff feel at the end of their day, what types of activities they see as potential risks and what they have done to offset these risks. This chapter also includes a discussion of safe patient handling with bariatric patients, and strategies for effectively ensuring the safety of both patients and nursing staff.

  4. Available Technology and Solutions

    4. Available Technology and Solutions

    How do you use technology and assistive devices to reduce risk? This chapter explores different options available to you and how to best utilize what’s available at your facility. This chapter also includes a discussion on when to use assistive devices, including information on beds, lateral transfers, active transfers, passive transfers, falls and DME.

  5. Your Role in Creating a Culture of Safety

    5. Your Role in Creating a Culture of Safety

    Therapists play an important role in advocating for those who receive care at their facility. This chapter includes a discussion on the important role that therapy practitioners play in developing a culture of safety, as well as how statistics can be a powerful tool to gain buy in from decision makers and improve the safety and quality of patient care. In addition, this chapter includes a discussion on how to best utilize contracted vendors to support your facility’s change initiatives.