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Hospital opens new training room for safe patient handling

- By Sara Wykes

Norbert von der Groeben Joshua Llantero and John Fell demonstrating equipment that safely moves hospital patients between a guerney and a bed

Joshua Llantero (left) and John Fell demonstrate equipment that safely moves hospital patients between a guerney and a bed. They can practice the techniques in the new simulation room.

A new simulation-training space for safe patient handling techniques has opened at the School of Medicine's Goodman Simulation Center, just steps away from Stanford Hospital & Clinics.

It's a first for the hospital and reflects a growing industry-wide acceptance of two important concepts in patient care: Simulation is a powerful educational tool, and refresher courses sustain learning.

The hospital began to enhance its safe patient handling almost five years ago, investing $1.5 million in new equipment that included overhead lifts and other patient-transfer systems. It was an investment that acknowledged a long-neglected reality: Lifting patients was hurting employees and putting patients at risk for injuries.

Powered lifts reduce the risk for patients and employees, said Ed Hall, senior director of risk management controls and education for Stanford Risk Authority. "But these programs need constant attention and direction," he said. "We have to be diligent and thorough." The dedicated simulation area for safe patient handling makes it possible to maintain training levels without disrupting patient care, he said.

Norbert von der Groeben Dan Morissette and Greg Souza speaking at the official opening of the simulation room

Dan Morissette and Greg Souza speak at the official opening of the simulation room where staff members can work with overhead lifts and other patient-transfer systems.

"It is currently more dangerous to work as a nurse in a hospital than it is to work on a construction site," said Nancy Lee, the hospital's vice president of patient care services and the chief nursing officer. "With the forecasted nursing shortage, we need to take care of our care providers every way we can. Simulation has a proven track record as a training and education tool that we must bring to patient handling. This is a great example of collaboration between the School of Medicine and SHC."

The training room will feature all lifting equipment currently in use, including equipment that aids employees who are lifting patients from their vehicles. To accomplish practice with that equipment, the simulation room will have one portion of a car.

The space will also serve as a testing ground for new equipment. "We'd like our staff to help us evaluate innovative products that may work better," Hall said. Plans under consideration for the future include classes for safe patient handling that will be open to non-SHC professionals.

As of January 2012, all general acute care hospitals in California were required by state law to have prevention plans and policies to guard against patient and employee back and musculoskeletal injuries. The hospitals are also required to replace all manual lifting practices or devices with powered equipment.

Sara Wykes is a writer for the Stanford Hospital & Clinics communications office.

Stanford Medicine integrates research, medical education and health care at its three institutions - Stanford School of Medicine, Stanford Health Care, and Stanford Children's Health. For more information, please visit the Office of Communications website at

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