Editor's Desk

By Michael Hughes

Handle us with care

In days of yore, I never gave much thought to getting around the doctor's office – or anywhere else, for that matter.

Hopping up on the exam table, being poked and prodded, twisting this way and that, occasionally sliding into a tube – they were all just part of the gig. But as the knees get creakier and the back gets balkier, such actions become slightly more complex endeavors.

And despite a rigorous exercise program of walking to and from the car and the mailbox on a daily basis, I suspect these conditions will get worse. After all, I sit on my … chair for a living. And imagine if I actually had a real disability.

So it was quite a delight to hear from Yeu-Li Yeung, the patient care ergonomics coordinator at Duke University and Health System. Her cover story, "Outpatient Ergonomics," discusses how offices and clinics should adopt many of the safe patient handling practices used by hospitals. After all, if you're dropped, it hurts – it doesn't matter if you were being moved from a hospital bed to radiology or from a clinic table to a blood lab.

Safe patient handling benefits employees, too. Yeung reports that healthcare workers have higher rates of injury and illness than the construction and manufacturing sectors, and the greatest risk factor for overexertion involves manual patient handling.

The resources are there to help. Yeung details guidelines and data from a number of public and private organizations, including the American Nursing Association, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Facility Guidelines Institute. She also notes a number of equipment options that help workers move patients around safely and efficiently.

So click here and look for ways to serve your patients – and your workforce – better. And for more information on ergonomics in action, don't forget about GOErgo's 18th Annual Applied Ergonomics Conference 2015, scheduled for March 16-19 in Nashville, Tennessee. Visit www.appliedergoconference.org for details.

Michael Hughes is managing editor of IIE. Reach him at mhughes@iienet.org or (770) 349-1110.