If a large patient comes in unassisted to our office but asks for assistance in the restroom, then we are risking our staff's backs to assist them. We don't want to refuse help, but it puts us in a bind. What do you suggest?
Cedar Valley Medical Specialists, Waterloo, IA
Thanks for your question. Here are a few thoughts to help you make an informed decision.
I am going to assume that the level of protection you wish to provide for your staff is similar to that used when protecting the medical practice itself, including clients and staff, against liability. For example, when it snows, it is likely that the medical practice protects its grounds by shoveling snow and salting the walkways to ensure clients and staff do not slip and fall. With that said, I assume this the same level of protection is needed within the building for the safety of your patients and staff alike.
How much protection is enough? Protection of your staff must be weighed against your commitment to provide the highest level of care to your patients. A rule of thumb is that transfer assistance should fit under the heading of "universal precautions." Just as when using gloves, washing hands, or masking up to protect staff and patients against cross contamination, your healthcare staff needs to be aware of the universal precaution to use ergonomic aids to protect themselves and their patients during transfers.
Although large patients obviously direct your attention to possible transfer problems, please bear in mind that the size of the patient does not dictate the probability of injury; size determines only the number of staff required and any potential space difficulties. In the situation you mention, utilizing a sit-to-stand device in medical office settings is now more common than ever. Benefits are that a sit-to-stand requires only one staff member to operate and can fit into small spaces, all while offering good protection to the patient and yourself.
The Lift Doctor*