'Proning,' (i.e. Prone Repositioning) is a relatively new form of treatment used with ARDS patients who require high concentrations of inspired oxygen. Prone repositioning often improves oxygenation in patients who have ARDS by shifting blood flow to regions of the lung that are less severely injured and thus better aerated. Under close supervision of an attending physician, specially trained staff turn the patient face down from a supine position and may then be required to alternate between prone and supine repositioning as often as three times a day, or until the requirement for a high concentration of inspired oxygen is resolved.
Even with proper equipment, physically turning a critically ill patient has significant risks. For example, the patient may be connected to equipment with wires and tubes, or there may be a variety of clinical reasons to avoid the procedure. Patients whose heads cannot be supported in a face-down position, or very large patients, may not be recommended for the proning technique. It appears to the Lift Doctor that use of mechanical lifting equipment would be of limited value in most proning situations. However, it IS technically feasible to use an overhead lift in combination with a repositioning sheet to transfer a patient from a supine to a prone position when repositioning from a gurney to a surgical table (or vice versa). Ideally there would have to be pillows placed over the edge between the two surfaces to allow the patient to be rolled over. Obviously you should practice this technique in advance of its use in an actual surgical environment. While this is a procedure I have seen work with a ceiling lift, it would likely be difficult to accomplish using a floor lift.
Another alternative might be to investigate use of a dedicated device such as the Vollman Prone Positioner, a cushioned frame that straps to the front of the patient before turning and that has helped to minimize the risks associated with moving patients and maintaining them in the prone position for several hours at a time.
The Lift Doctor