Everything You Need to Know about Using Hoists in an Operating Room
The working environment in an operating theatre is often high stress, with a combination of precise work processes and limitations on available space. As patients in operating theatres are generally under the influence of painkillers and/or anaesthetics, they are rarely capable of providing any assistance themselves when they are being lifted, moved and positioned, this is where the true benefits of hoists can really be utilised.
Common lifting and moving procedures in operating theatres that can be made safer and more efficient using a hoist system include:
- Lifting extremities to allow washing or sterilisation, or as part of the operation itself
- Repositioning patients on the operating table
- Lifting patients with limited movement
- Turning patients positioned on their stomach
- Turning patients onto their side on the operating table
- Positioning thorax pillows
- Moving patients between bed/stretcher trolley and the operating table
- Positioning legs in leg slings
Medical professionals who work in the operating room have a lot of specialised equipment surrounding them – equipment that must be used and maintained according to a set of guidelines. Hoists, whether ceiling-mounted or mobile, are no different. These useful tools are available to medical care providers wherever there is a need to lift a patient from a laying or sitting position, and they can even help in the event that just a single limb of the patient needs to be elevated or positioned.
Using a ceiling-mounted or mobile hoist makes for easier procedural operations within the OR, but selecting the right hoist and pairing with the right sling or harness takes some understanding of how this equipment all works.
Generally speaking, there are two different types of slings that are used with hoists in the operating room: the first type is a full-body sling or harness that is designed to carry the full weight of the patient, and the second type is a partial-body sling or harness that is meant to isolate only a single limb of the patient.
When dealing with bariatric patients, it is not uncommon to have to call on the assistance of 4–6 people to complete the move in the best and gentlest manner possible. This, in turn, often requires carers to work in awkward, ergonomically challenging positions.
The full-body sling is useful in situations where it isn’t possible to perform the required operation on the patient unless they are in a suspended position that grants operative access to the necessary part of the body. To achieve the ideal patient position, a full-body sling or harness is first attached to the patient while they are lying down or sitting, and then the hoist is connected and operated by a trained carer or assistant. Once the patient is maneuvered to the desired position with their weight being managed by the hoist, the medical procedure can continue as prepared.
After the procedure has been performed, there are two options available to carers – either the patient can be treated as any other post-operation patient with the full-body or partial-body sling or harness still attached, or the patient can be returned to the lying or seated position and the sling can be removed safely. In either case, the sling or harness used during the operation can be removed from the hoist, washed, sanitized, and returned to regular use.
Remember that most ceiling-mounted or mobile hoists can be used with a variety of different styles and sizes of slings or harnesses. For patients undergoing operations on a specific limb that needs to be isolated and/or elevated during the procedure, a partial-body sling correctly connected to a hoist can be an incredible benefit.
To use a partial-body sling, the steps are similar to those used with the full-body sling. However, because only a single limb or section of the body is going to be isolated, the patient can remain in a lying-down or seated position, whichever is most appropriate for the procedure to be performed. Many partial body slings can even be managed by the patients themselves, giving them the option to raise or lower their limb with easy access to the hoist controls on the pendant controller or on the hoist chassis itself.