From emergency rooms to board rooms, hospitals are constantly looking at improvements in hospital safety, for both patients and employees. A possibly harmful situation is born out of a staff member moving a patient to and from a hospital bed, causing personal safety concerns for both individuals. This juggling act often comes at a cost, with hospitals purchasing products in an effort to assist patients’ comfort, while inadvertently adding an extra stress or hazard to their staff. One Texas rural hospital is using a simple product to mitigate possible problems when transferring patients – the HoverMatt Air Transfer System.
Hamilton General Hospital sat down with us to discuss their solution to safe patient lifting and transfer. After careful and thorough review of numerous patient lifting devices, they settled on a product known as the HoverMatt™. Chief Nursing Officer Debbie Martin explains the stunning simplicity of the technology saying the Matts “can be deflated and left underneath the [patient’s] sheet on top of the bed mattress. So, it’s very easy on the patient and easy on the staff.” The HoverMatt is then re-inflated when a nurse or staff member needs to transfer the patient. Rather than the cumbersome practice of suspending the patient to various lifts, boards, and belts, the HoverMatt allows Hamilton nurses to merely plug in one of the provided air tanks, expand the Matt, and move the patient with comfort and care.
Patient safety and treatment, though the highest priority at Hamilton, was not the leading reason for purchasing HoverMatts. Hospital administration – including the Safety Committee – noticed employee injures related to straining in the lower leg and back while lifting immobile patients, particularly those who are paralyzed, obese, or amputees. Not only is employee injury detrimental to the hospital with staff losing time to heal, but it also impacts the morale of employees who feel their employer is not doing all that can be done to protect them on the job. Christy Segit, Hamilton’s Assisting Director of Nursing who wrote the grant and oversaw the implementation process, expressed her appreciation for Hamilton’s utilization of HoverMatts, saying it gives the nursing department “a greater sense of satisfaction” knowing that the administration takes “a genuine concern for the employees safety and trying to ease some of our work burden.”
Emily Dossey, the Chief Projects Officer for Hamilton General who five years ago started the safety culture change with Martin, Safety Officer Jeff Layhew, and HR Director Keela Payne agrees with Nursing Administration, “Fortunately with the HoverMatt system, we were able to really accomplish two things with one product.” Keeping the employees safe while transferring a patient and protecting the patient’s skin integrity with less tears or fear of falling. This made the HoverMatt a phenomenal preventive purchase for Hamilton.
Hamilton is fortunate enough to have a foundation that provides grants to departments, which is how the nursing department afforded the $8,000 HoverMatt system purchase. This enhancement included fifty disposable mats, two air blowers, and two carts for transporting these materials to various departments. Unlike Hamilton, most rural hospitals do not have a foundation; rather, they support themselves via fundraising or generous individuals. After purchasing the product, hospitals have a limited budget for upkeep, replacements, or maintenance. Segit notes that the HoverMatt system could be more affordable if it was reimbursable through insurance:
“It is a friction injury reducing piece of equipment, as well as an employee safety equipment item. But there is no reimbursement currently for the use of these HoverMatts. I kind of hope that in the future that trend changes, because the benefit to the patient is tremendous. I really think that there should be some type of reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance for these items, because it is such a tremendous benefit to the patient and the employee.”
Whether our hospital members consider this device or others, the key is to be pro-active and learn from your peers. Hamilton has agreed to visit with any member of the Texas Mutual HotComp safety group to learn more.
HotComp on behalf of Texas Mutual Insurance strives to promote safety for all of our member hospitals. The HoverMatt system appears to be a promising alternative to staff injury or strain, while simultaneously improving patients’ experience and employee morale. Your HotComp Safety Committee will continue to look in to safe patient handling devices and share what we learn. Texas Mutual does not currently endorse HoverMatt or any other device.
We want to hear from you. Please share your safety challenges and success stories with us.
On February 11, 2016, Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health and the head of the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), spoke to 170 members of the oil and gas well servicing industry at the Association of Energy Service Companies’ (AESC) Winter Meeting in Horseshoe Bay, Texas, about what the public can expect to see from OSHA in 2016.
Employers Must Make Safety a “Precondition,” Not Merely a Priority
Michaels raised eyebrows when he said he was tired of hearing employers brag about how “safety is a priority” in their organizations. He explained that calling safety a “priority” suggests that, when times are tough, employers may deprioritize safety. “Safety is not a priority,” Michaels said. “It’s a precondition.” Michaels urged employers to develop cultures of safety within their organizations. Critically important, according to Michaels, is a culture where employees feel comfortable stopping work if the workplace is unsafe. “If employees can’t do that, your culture is broken,” he said.
Michaels urged employers to go above and beyond OSHA standards. “Complying with OSHA standards will make the workplace safer, but not ‘safe,'” he said. Some fatalities and injuries will not be prevented by simply complying with present OSHA standards because, Michaels explained, OSHA standards “can’t cover everything.” Many are also out of date, he said. Other standards are obsolete as soon as OSHA issues them.
Partnering with you to get your employees safely home to their families every day is the most important service Texas Mutual delivers not just to our policyholders, but to every Texas business. That’s why we launched our Work Safe, Texas website.
The site is a forum for us to share our workplace safety expertise with Texas. Each month, we upgradewith fresh content. From downloadable posters to online videos to workplace safety articles, you’ll find resources that address the unique hazards your employees face.
Here are just a few highlights from the March offerings waiting for you at worksafetexas.com.
Employees don’t always check substance abuse at the door
If you’ve every daydreamed about playing in the National Football League, take heart. You have something in common with the guys who suit up on Sundays. You’re an industrial athlete, and your body is your instrument. Whether you spend our days sacking quarterbacks or groceries, you need to prepare your body for the rigors of daily life. Functional fitness can help.
This month’s featured post from our award-winning Safety @ Work blog explains what functional fitness is and shows how it can help you do everyday tasks injury-free.
Employers who bring injured workers back to the team, even under modified duty, can reap the benefits in terms of reduced workers’ comp costs and improved productivity. This month’s free streaming video explains how to get started with a return-to-work program.
The World Health Organization has declared the Zika virus a global health emergency. Our “Safety currents” column features seven things you need to know to protect yourself.
Workplace safety articles
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires employers to post their annual summary of injuries and illness in the workplace between February 1 and April 30 of every year. If you are out of compliance, visit this month’s safety article offerings for more information.
A brand you can live with
Texas Mutual has built its corporate brand on safety. But Work Safe, Texas isn’t just a catchy tagline. It’s a vision that drives everything we do. As long as Texans are getting injured on the job, our Work Safe website will be open for business.
Your Safety Committee
The HOTCOMP Safety Committee meets twice a year to discuss the issues of safety in our member hospitals and what we can do to do to help make them safer workplaces.
The majority of the Committee members are administrators and safety specialist in your fellow member hospitals. We understand that issues come up through the year. If you would like to post a question to the safety committee members as a group or individuals, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will pass your questions on to the appropriate member(s).
About Safety Matters:
It is our hope that this publication, in addition to Texas Mutual’s Safety Resource Center, proves a useful tool to promote safety in our members’ hospitals. The newsletter will focus on safety issues that specifically trend to our membership hospitals.
We hope to hear from you on safety issues your hospital is facing and on successful safety procedures you have implemented. It is the safety committee’s goal to create a collaborative exchange of ideas that contributes to making all of our hospitals safer which, in turn, will increase our safety group’s benefits.
Please send your ideas, questions and comments to email@example.com.
Why Your Safety Matters:
Group members receive exclusive benefits like targeted safety resources, a discount on their workers’ compensation insurance and potential dividends based upon the safe performance of the group. HOTComp group participants have shared in over $1 million in group dividends since 2008 in addition to individual dividends from Texas Mutual.