According to different medical research sources, even up to 40% of health cases among medical professionals are spine and muscle complaints, being a result of manual patient handling. Healthcare professionals incur occupational diseases including musculoskeletal (MSK) injuries much more often than any other profession. Within this group, nurses are the most exposed.

Work-related injuries among OR employees

Studies show that 56% of nurses have experienced MSK pain that was caused by or worsened at work and 80% of them continued to work despite suffering from MSK pain[1].

High prevalence of musculoskeletal disorders, especially chronic low back pain, increases the costs of treatment, loss of working days and the turn-over rate among nurses[2].

Nurses may lose an average of 35,800 workdays each year as a result of musculoskeletal injury[3]. This means, that probably a vital number of nurses who manually transfer patients in the OR will be forced to leave the profession due to spondylosis and chronic pain in the spine. Hospital Managers in order not to lose their personnel and to recruit new employees, have to accept one fact: the safe manual lifting of the patient simply does not exist. Manual patient handling is dangerous for both OR personnel and the patient.

Hospitals and healthcare providers are constantly challenged to increase operational efficiency, achieve better clinical outcomes, with limited legal claims from patients.  They are also conscious of the present and future health hazards that might affect their already limited in number surgical teams. OR managers and head OR nurses would, therefore, search for technical solutions which can decrease the physical and mental burden of their personnel. Another reason for investing in proper technology is the rising awareness of increased safety in the OR, eliminating epidemiological risks, decubitus, and mechanical injuries.

Patient transfer methods – solutions overview

We can divide the methods of perioperative patients transfer for those which do not require the interference in the operating theatre’s architecture and can be introduced any time. And those which are built-in and have to be planned at the early stage of a facility investment.

The very basic method of patient transfer is a conventional sheet. The standard procedure is to lift the sheet and move the patient onto another surface. It is the most available solution but it is not as trouble-free and cost-effective as it seems to be. Transferring the patient in the mentioned way may result in personnel’s health problems. What is more, the patient’s body changes position a few times during the transfer, which can result in additional injuries.

Another method is the manual transfer with slide sheets. To use this method the personnel have to roll the patient by placing the slide sheets together, flat on the bed. The patient handling still requires physical strength of the caregivers, as well as adequate techniques. Also, this method has limited application for the transfer between two surfaces. It is rather used for repositioning than perioperative transfer in an operating theater.

The solution which can be applied for the transfer between different surfaces is a transfer board, nevertheless, this one has limited load capacity and the bent body position is not eliminated. Still, the nursing staff needs to use their force to handle the patient.

A more ergonomic solution is a roller board and air transfer systems. Both are dedicated to transferring between different surfaces. Definitely, roller board is a more economical solution. On the other hand, it is more difficult to disinfect.  Rollerboards usually are reported to cause unpleasant feeling for the transferred patient. They would not be the best option for transferring patients whose weight is over 160 kg either. The air transfer system has a much better load capacity and can be used for patients with weight up to 500 kg. Despite their advantages, air transfer systems are still much more expensive than roller boards.

When planning a new operating theater or a general modernization of existing one, fixed patient transfer units are considered. Their major advantages are:

  • No lifting of the patient is needed while transferring between different surfaces
  • A more “human” approach, increased patient’s safety
  • Separation of the clean and dirty areas of the hospital

A disadvantage of this solution is that additional space is needed. The transfer lasts longer in comparison to mobile solutions. From the financial point of view, fixed patient transfer units require an additional budget at the stage of investment as well as for further maintenance costs.

Patient transfer methods – solutions overview

patient-transfer_alvo-transpa_2A mid-way solution, which eliminates patient lifting but does not require interference in the operating theatre’s architecture, is a mobile transfer unit ALVO Transpa. Its mobile structure allows using it at any place, especially where installing a fixed patient transfer unit is impossible. The only prerequisite is having enough space to maneuver the trolley, but not more than is needed for a conventional hospital bed.

The mobile patient transfer solution ALVO Transpa is based on a trolley, with a rolling belt to smoothly roll patients to and from an operating table or a hospital bed. The rolling belt can be easily disinfected. Maneuvering the system can be done by a single person as it is supported by the electric engine.

[1] American Nurses Association Backgrounder, 2011 ANA Health & Safety Survey: Hazards of the RN work environment.

[2] Effects of patient-handling and individual factors on the prevalence of low back pain among nursing personnel

Research Article:  Samaei, Seyed Ehsana; b | Mostafaee, Maryamc | Jafarpoor, Hasanalia | Hosseinabadi, Majid Bagherid,  Journal: Work, vol. 56, no. 4, pp. 551-561, 2017

[3] Bureau of Labor Statistics. Industry Injury and Illness Data (2007). http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/case/ostb1942.pdf. Accessed October 15, 2013