Safe Patient-Handling Program "UPLIFTS" Nurse Retention

The administration of a small acute care satellite facility of a large hospital system in South Carolina purchased mobility assistance equipment as part of a safe patient-handling pilot program. Half of the 110 registered nurses (RNs) employed were older than age 54; the average age was 46. The minimal-lift initiative yielded the following results:

  • Nurse staff turnover, which had averaged 10 percent, decreased to 5 percent for a savings of $170,000 in one year.
  • Musculoskeletal injuries to nurses were reduced with no lost work days for patient handling injuries and a savings of $230,000 over three previous years.
  • Patient safety and comfort during moving improved significantly according to patient discharge surveys.

The study found that some nurses resisted using the new equipment and accepting the minimal-lift program as policy. To overcome this, nurse leadership held a contest to name the program, offering recognition and a prize for the winning acronym, UPLIFT, standing for “Using Portable Lifts In Facilitating Transfers.” They also produced a video, which became part of employee orientation.
As a result, nurses felt more ownership of the program and use of the safe patient-handling equipment increased.

The program was rolled out in other units of the health care system’s five campus and eight facilities.