Part 2 in an 8-part series
While Hoyer Lifts are, in many circumstances, helpful to hospitals and nursing homes because they allow staff to transport patients and residents with limited mobility, unfortunately, the devices also contain some flaws that can lead to many serious types of injuries.
The Importance of Proper Usage and Maintenance
Aside from ensuring that staff is trained on how to use the devices; maintenance of Hoyer Lifts is a huge issue. If even one thing goes wrong, a catastrophe can happen. The lifts need to be inspected before each use, for example, in order to ensure the following:
- Are the bolts tight enough?
- Are the boom and mast in place such that they will not rotate?
- Can the caster wheels turn freely, can the caster brakes be engaged?
- Can the base be easily widened?
- Are all the lift parts in place?
- Are all of the necessary parts (slings, chains, straps, wheelchair, etc.) ready?
- Is the wheelchair, bed, etc. wherever the patient is being transferred to in locked position?
In addition, the Lifts should be thoroughly inspected by someone qualified to recognize when the devices are missing bolts or other parts. The older the Lift is, the more frequently it should be inspected to make sure that parts are not worn out and in need of replacement. Lubrication should also be placed at the top of the mast, top of the pump, swivel bar hook, pump handle hinge, and caster axles every two months. Slings, when washed, should be machine washed with warm or cold water but without the use of bleach.
Common Hoyer Lift Problems and Their Causes
Some of the more common issues that occur with Hoyer Lifts and what leads to these issues include:
- Handle mounting holes loosening or enlarging because the pivot point has not been periodically oiled;
- The jack lowering while the patient is suspended because the pressure release knob has not been checked to make sure it is completely closed; the valve has not been checked to make sure it is sealed; and/or the release cartridge might be defective;
- The jack failing to lift to full height because there is air in the oil underarm or the unit may be low on oil;
- There is oil leaking from around the piston because the packing nut needs to be tightened;
- Oil leaking from around the rim of the top cap because the unit has been lying on its side for too long; and
- The unit is failing to lower because the release cartridge needs to be removed, cleaned, and/or replaced.
As part of providing staff with the appropriate training, there are certain best practices when it comes to being familiar with the special features of the Hoyer Lift, such as:
- Examining the lift prior to each use to ensure that it is in proper working condition;
- Ensuring that the weight capacity of the lift is sufficient for the current circumstance;
- Avoiding using as a hoist or winch with machinery;
- Keeping casters free from all obstacles;
- Avoiding use of the caster break while lifting transferring or transporting a patient;
- Making sure the patient is centered over the base as low as possible prior to transport;
- Removing threshold strips prior to transporting from room to room;
- Avoiding transporting patients over rough surfaces or obstructions and down ramps; and
- Not installing non-manufacturer parts and/or trying to repair the lift without the assistance of an authorized professional.
How You Could Get Hurt Using a Hoyer Lift
Sometimes workers are injured using Hoyer Lifts as a result of negligence. When the staff has not been provided with proper training, ensuring that they protect their backs, or the Lifts have not been properly maintained and breakdown while in use, workers tend to get hurt.
OSHA provides guidelines to nursing homes on how to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. This includes very specific guidelines on resident lifting and repositioning: transferring to and from bed to chair, chair to toilet, chair to chair, car to chair, chair to stretcher, lateral transferring (bed to the stretcher), transferring a patient up from the floor, etc. Musculoskeletal disorders include conditions such as low back pain, sciatica, rotator cuff injuries, epicondylitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome. OSHA has declared that the experiences of many nursing homes provide a basis for taking action to protect workers better.
Injured On-the-Job by a Hoyer? You Need a Work Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured on the job, hire a Workers’ Compensation Lawyer. Working with someone who is experienced and can ensure that you remain protected throughout the process is absolutely crucial.
Our Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys have worked with many injured caregivers in nursing homes and hospitals. It is our job to ensure that your medical expenses and lost wages are covered while you recover from your injury. Contact us today by calling 800.952.9640 or get in touch online to find out how we can help you.
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