Nurses at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) are using a technologically-advanced lifting system to lift and move patients in its wards.

Using a Patient Lifter System, SGH nurses are now able to lift immobile patients, such as those who suffer from stroke and other neurological conditions, from the bed to the chair or even directly to the shower rooms without physically carrying them.

“Our nurses are now able to transfer patients in a safe and dignified manner. Patients and their caregivers feel more confident when they see our nurses using modern technology in improving patient safety. The system allows a single nurse to swivel, lift and transfer patients using a handset control without stress or strain, and with no manual lifting,” said Ms Norhayati Binte Ahmad, Assistant Director of Nursing, SGH.

Previously, it took up to three nurses to lift a patient from the bed to the chair. Sliding of patients during the transfer may sometimes aggravate pressure ulcers or even tear the fragile skin of some patients.
With the new Patient Lifter System, a nurse would adjust and slide a sling under a bed-bound patient. After clipping and latching on the safety features of the sling to the top handle bar, the nurse would use a remote control to activate the ceiling lift motor to lift up the patient.

The nurse can then either seat the patient on a chair or continue to slide the patient securely along the ceiling tracks and transfer him to another facility, such as the shower room. Patients can also stand up with the sling still attached to the lifter, as a form of support, and walk along the corridor as part of rehabilitation. Patients' risk of falling is greatly reduced too.

The system also allows nurses to turn and reposition bedridden patients safely and physiotherapists to mobilise patients as part of their rehabilitation programme. These efforts minimise complications from prolonged periods of inactivity among patients. These complications include chest infection and muscle atrophy arising. An added advantage of the system is that nurses are protected from workplace-acquired injuries such as low back pain.

The Patient Lifter System was introduced at the Neurology Ward this year and will be installed in the Hospital's intensive care units by 2013. The majority of patients in these wards and units are dependent on nurses for their mobility functions.