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Lateral Transfers: Safe lateral transfers for post-op hip patients


Can a hover mat type lateral transfer system be used on post-op hip fracture patients?

Karen Yaeck


Dear Karen:

The Lift Doctor believes that as long as you follow the manufacturer’s instructions, low-pressure air transfer mattresses should provide sufficient protection to enable you to safely perform lateral transfers with post-op hip fracture patients. Further, not only will the transfer be safer for the patient than a straight manual transfer, the caregivers should also be much safer due to avoidance of heavy exertion needed to complete the transfer.

Note: These types of mattresses, which suppliers state can reduce the physical exertion required to move patients by up to 90 per cent, are put on the operating table under patients before surgery. After the operation, the mattress is inflated by a low-pressure air supply and, as it is inflating, air escapes from small perforations on its underside, which allows it to hover while nurses grab onto handles to slide it, along with the patient, over to an adjacent stretcher. Once the patient is on the stretcher, the mattress is deflated and removed.

However, in most instances the final decision on whether to allow an air mattress transfer on post-op patients is ultimately made by the surgeon. If he/she is hesitant, you may wish to conduct a test in advance using a volunteer, or allow the surgeon to participate in a transfer directly in order to observe any stresses placed onto the hip during the transfer.

Stay safe,
The Lift Doctor*