CategoriesPatient Handling

Solving Lateral Transfers and Positioning Risk in Hospitals

What Puts The Nursing Staff At Risk?

While you may think of hospitals as one of the safest places to work, they’re actually one of the most dangerous workplaces for staff members. In fact, an OSHA study revealed that 7 workers for every 100 full-time employees at hospitals were injured on the job. Compare that rate to other private industries, and you’ll discover that hospitals are almost twice as dangerous. The nursing staff of a hospital undergoes a lot of physical exertion throughout the day. From ICUs to ORs, the nursing staff is responsible for lateral transfers of total care patients. It’s not anything out of the ordinary for a nurse to move a patient from a bed to a gurney, to a CT table, to an OR table, and back to a bed.

Most nurses perform this task dozens of times each shift. Throw in the constant need for patient repositioning, boosting, and turning and it becomes very clear why nurses are highly susceptible to repositioning injury and strains. These injuries are referred to as musculoskeletal disorders or MSD’s. These predictable, high frequency tasks are further complicated by heavier patients.


The Call For A Better Solution

There has been continued concern about the health of nursing staff around the country as OSHA and the Bureau Of Labor Statistics are notating negative health trends in healthcare workers. In fact, the Association of OR Nurses (AORN) has recently published a set of recommended safety guidelines and a tool kit that includes the use of air powered lateral transfer systems for each surgery patient.  See the slides below from the AORN Toolkit. While the laws may not have caught up to the ongoing injury increases, the healthcare manufacturers have. They’ve developed air powered systems that are fast, comfortable, easy to use, and highly efficient for both caregivers and patients alike.

What Are Air Powered Systems?

Air powered systems are comprised of an inflatable pad, easy-to-use air supply,

power cord, and a hose. The patient is placed on the air powered lateral transfer system. The pump is inserted into the pad. As the pump quickly runs to fill up the pad, it sounds similar to a vacuum cleaner. Once the mattress is pumped up, it’s time to move the patient.

These air powered systems come with straps to hold the patient safely in place during the lateral transfers process. They also come with convenient handles for the caregivers to use when sliding that patient from one surface to another. In most cases, the lifting or pulling weight is reduced to almost 10 percent of the patient’s weight.

With virtually no friction beneath the pad when transferring from surface to surface, moving patients can be done with minimal caregiver exertion.  Reducing exertion reduces risk of injury to nursing staff.   There are a few different brands that offer this system, including SPH Medical, and Hovermatt. Air powered transfer systems can also be easily used for patient repositioning.

The Immediate Benefit Of Air Powered Transfer Systems

Air powered lateral transfer systems provide many notable benefits for both the healthcare worker and the patient. These systems provide a less strenuous way for healthcare workers to transfer patients from one surface to another. This reduces the occurrence of a nursing injury, including a repositioning injury or a chronic low back injury.

With the recent COVID-19 pandemic concerns, more and more healthcare facilities are investing in disposable pads for air powered systems. These pads can be easily thrown out after each use, or reprocessed, reducing risk of cross contamination in between patients and reducing risk of infections hospital wide.

Improve Patient Satisfaction

For patients, these air powered transfer systems provide a more comfortable and safe transfer process. Since the patient is being supported by the inflatable pad instead of a draw sheet, the transfer process feels more supportive and comfortable.  The uncomfortable and typically manual process of being transferred is replaced with a frictionless float to the target surface.  In addition, the safety straps give the patient a feeling of security during the transfer.  Overall patients are happier and staff are safer.  This is a win win for everyone including the hospital.



CategoriesPatient Handling

Lateral Transfer System reduces COVID-19 Risk in Hospitals

Transfer Patients Safely and Reduce Risk of COVID-19

Transfer patients safely and reduce the risk of COVID-19 and cross contamination with an Air Powered Lateral Transfer Device.

The Lateral Transfer Devices are an important tool so fewer staff members can help more patients safely.  Air powered lateral transfer systems offers a broad range of options to ensure that patients of all shapes and sizes can be transferred safely anywhere in the hospital.  As we look at how patients are moved in hospitals, 90% of the patient transfers are considered a lateral transfer.  A lateral transfer is moving a patient from one surface horizontally, either up in bed (as in boosting a patient) or over to another surface like an OR table, CT table, new bed or gurney.   There is a lot of risk for both patients and staff when it comes to transferring patients.  In fact lateral transfers due to their high frequency are a leading cause of work-related muskuloskeletal disorders.  Over time the strain on the lower back, upper back, neck shoulders, wrists can result in career ending injuries for our caregivers.

The System

The Air Powered Lateral Transfer system was invented more than 30 years ago to address these risks and to protect both our hospital staff and patients.  SPH Medical and has been working tirelessly to reduce the risk of infection and cross contamination during transfer by utilizing a single patient use disposable transfer pad.  This back saving technology also promotes infection prevention by allowing the transfer pad to stay with the patient who needs it for the length of their stay, and it can be disposed of or reprocessed after they no longer need it.

Each air powered transfer system is composed of the the transfer mattress, a motor, air hose, power cord and transport cart. The transfer pad also includes safety straps that connect over the patient to ensure safety during transfer, and pull handles all around the transfer pad.  The handles make the transfer mattress safe for caregivers in a variety of different settings to pull horizontally or boost up in bed.  The transfer mattress behaves much like a reverse air hockey table.  The perforated chambers allow for a cushion of air to support the patient and reduce friction between the transfer mattress and the surface below.  The transfer pad has optional disposable top sheets that can wick away moisture from the patient. The transfer mattress itself is moisture proof but some facilities like to protect it with the disposable coverlet so that it may remain unsoiled and more quickly available for the next transfer required.

The safety straps and pull handles improve both patient and staff safety.  The air hose and motor are designed as simply as possible to make the entire transfer process as efficient as possible so that caregivers may focus on safely moving the patient.

Designed for General Hospital Use

The air powered transfer system is designed for general hospital use, and has the features to adapt itself through Nursing, Radiology, CT Scan, MRI, Nuclear Medicine, as well as the Emergency Room, Operating and Recovery Room, and even the Oncology/Radiation Therapy departments.  Nursing will find this solution useful to accommodate lateral transfers of nearly all all patients and departmental procedures, due to the make-up of the materials of the TransferPad. The technical specifications of the reusable transfer mattresses offer special low friction fabric on the bottom layer and  are MRI and X-ray compatible, and are constructed out of flame-resistant material.

On procedure tables such as X-Ray and Nuclear medicine, the equipment itself may have narrow or wide surfaces that normally make transfer a challenge. The typical Air Powered Lateral Transfer System is designed to allow as few as two staff members along with the anesthetist to handle these challenging locations, freeing up the technicians from needing to assist with this part of the process.  When performing a transfer into a CT Scan, the flexibility of the Transfer Mattress allows the head region of the to be folded under itself so that a staff member may then cradle the patients head and lay it into the headrest to complete a head scan, where the staff member may deflate the Transfer Mattress, complete the scan, then turn the motor back on and replace the patient’s head with as little disruption as possible. The TransferPad itself has no metal parts and is designed so that it does not produce any artifact during the scan.  For MRI rooms, using an extended hose, the air supply can be left outside the room.

In the Emergency Room, the Transfer Mattress is likely best equipped with a Sani-Liner placed on a stretcher, where the patient may be placed directly upon arrival. If the patient arrives on a hard board, the procedure remains the same, which greatly increases speed and safety as the patient need not suffer extra movement until stabilized. Since the Transfer Mattress is radiolucent, the X ray cassettes may be slid underneath the Transfer Mattress, the patient can be easily maneuvered to their proper position, deflated for the X ray, then re-inflated and moved again to quickly reclaim the cassettes. In the Emergency Room, a disposable coverlet  will prevent excessive amounts of blood or bodily solutions coming in contact with the mattress.

Lateral Transfer Devices

The Lateral Transfer Device’s features are designed to address the high-risk tasks of transferring patients on or off beds; repositioning patients on beds; lifting and holding extremities, and otherwise reaching, lifting, and moving equipment that happens around the time of surgery or acute treatment for the patient. Experts in the fields of biomechanics, engineering, industrial hygiene, injury prevention, and perioperative nursing were engaged to ensure that the Lateral Transfer Device features were designed to respect these separate, complex fields of study. Representatives from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Patient Safety Center of Inquiry at the James A. Haley Veterans Administration Medical Center, and the American Nurses Association were all involved in the development of this product.

According AORN’s new Safe Patient Handling Guidelines, the Air Powered Transfer Device should be used for all patients over 73lbs.  The Lateral Transfer Device allows one or two staff members to perform the tasks that typically would require four to eight people to complete safely.

Given the stress on personnel and their backs, necks, and shoulders, the tasks associated with moving patients must be minimized as much as possible. This system’s technology was created to keep the patient transfer process as safe and simple as possible for both the patient and the caregiver.

Hospital results when working with SPH Medical and utilizing single patient use solutions: 

  • Reduced risk of infection and cross contamination
  • Improved staff morale and efficiency
  • Dramatically reduced staff injuries (MSDs) and worker’s compensation costs
  • Increased patient comfort and reduced patient anxiety with transfers
  • Enhanced infection control in patient handling procedures
  • Lower cost
  • Safer for patient’s skin
SPH Medical EPD 4
CategoriesInfection Prevention,  Patient Handling

The EPD and Air Transfer System Improve Patient and Staff Safety

SPH Medical is Improving Safety for Hospital Staff and Patients

SPH Medical is here to improve patient staff safety in labor and delivery and surgical units with the Epidural Positioning Device and the air transfer system.

COVID-19 is putting our healthcare workers at risk. Manually handling patients under normal conditions is known to put our nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers at risk. Now more than ever hospital staff need to have the right tools to help move, support, lift and transfer patients. The EPD and air powered lateral transfer system improve patient and staff safety especially during this time of heightened concern about infection prevention.

SPH Medical Provides Safe Patient Handling Solutions to Healthcare Facilities

SPH Medical provides Safe Patient Handling solutions to healthcare facilities which means that we protect our frontline caregivers by preventing infection and injuries.

Within Hospitals nurses are being asked to care for patients infected with Cov-Sars2 and other deadly viral and bacterial infections. In order to deal with these deadly infections the Infection Control Nurse within the hospital mandates that single patient use devices are used where possible to lift move and transfer patients. Single patient use items are essentially disposable items that are patient specific, which means that they don’t get used with other patients. The outside laundry system generally isn’t trusted with returning specialized items or hospital owned items back to the hospital so then hospital is forced to use “disposable” items where possible to minimize the risk of infection to other patients. At times this can seem costly, but the risk and cost of hospital acquired infections and and nursing injuries is well with the investment.

How Does this Relate to One of the Most Important Departments in the Hospital?

The Labor and Delivery department is where new mothers give birth to their children in what should be safe and infection free environment.

A large percentage of mothers are continuing to get cesarean section procedures (cite sources and %) even in today’s COVID-19 environment.

With the c-section procedure comes several high-frequency patient handling tasks that Put our nurses and doctors at risk every day, lateral transfers to the OB OR table and patient positioning during the epidural injection procedure.

First the Epidural. Positioning the patient in the proper position for the injection puts our nurses at risk of injury. (See other blog posts we’ve written). We solve this my by making the patient comfortable and eliminating the static holding by the nurse with the Epidural Positioning Device.

Once the patient has received the epidural successfully and the are ready to be moved to the OB OR for the C-section procedure that staff have to plan how to move the patient on and off the table safely. Keep in mind the patient can’t scoot across to the table. They can’t feel their lower half! The staff need to use a assistive tool to transfer the patient safely on and off the OR table. What solutions are available to accomplish this?

Lateral Transfer Devices Available on the Market

There are a variety of lateral transfer devices available on the market to help transfer patients safely to and from beds, gurneys, OR tables, and Imaging Tables.

There are simple Friction Reducing Devices such as slide sheets (“easy slide disposable“ from SPH Medical) Available in many styles: flat sheets with handles, tube style sheets, there are lateral transfer boards made out of plastic also called slider boards – these are not ideal as they don’t significantly reduce friction to safe levels, there are roller boards like the Rollerslide by SPH Medical which act like a conveyer belt moving with the patient. Finally the gold standard of lateral transfer solutions is the air powered lateral transfer system which floats the patient on a comfortable layer of air between the two surfaces. This   makes the transfer process not only more comfortable for the patient but also eliminates risk of injury to the nursing and hospital staff performing the transfer. You can find a well documented clinical evaluation on Friction Reducing Devices here by Andrea Baptiste, MA, CIE, Sruthi V. Boda, MS, Audrey L. Nelson, PhD, RN, FAAN, John D. Lloyd, PhD, MErgS, CPE, and William E. Lee, III, PhD.

All Employees Should be Wearing the Appropriate Fluid Rated N95 Respirators

All employees should be wearing the appropriate fluid rated N95 respirators like the Makrite 9500-N95 which is FDA 510K approved for use as a surgical mask.


The EPD and air powered transfer system improve patient and staff safety. SPH Medical provides a total solution to reduce risks of infection and injury to our frontline caregivers in Labor and Delivery and throughout the hospital. This is not limited to Labor and Delivery departments. We are addressing similar risks throughout the entire hospital and continuum of care helping to create new standards for safety and protection of our healthcare workers. This is not about obesity and COVID. This is about caring for every patient and every nurse to improve patient outcomes and reduce risks of Infection and injury related to MSD’s and high-risk, high-frequency patient care tasks.

Please contact SPH Medical to learn more about improving safety in Labor and Delivery with air transfer systems and the EPD. To learn more about the Makrite N95 Mask options including the 9500-N95 and the SEKURA-N95.

CategoriesPatient Handling

CDC and NiOSH – Safe Patient Handling is a priority

Nurses continue to be injured at an alarming rate compared to other professions. With an increasing retirement population of baby boomers and now skilled nurses leaving the workforce for retirement our hospitals are facing a knowledge and skill gap that is difficult to replace. Safe Patient Handling efforts by many hospitals have allowed Nurses to work safely, longer.

The CDC and NiOSH have developed a web page that provides a wide variety of links and resources related to Safe Patient Handling and injury prevention.

Here is an excerpt from the CDC’s website:

Patient Handling Hazards

Rates of musculoskeletal injuries from overexertion in healthcare occupations are among the highest of all U.S. industries. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that in 2014, the rate of overexertion injuries averaged across all industries was 33 per 10,000 full time workers. By comparison, the overexertion injury rate for hospital workers was twice the average (68 per 10,000), the rate for nursing home workers was over three times the average (107 per 10,000), and the rate for ambulance workers was over five times the average (174 per 10,000).1 The single greatest risk factor for overexertion injuries in healthcare workers is the manual lifting, moving and repositioning of patients, residents or clients, i.e., manual patient handling.

The CDC resource page can be found here:

About SPH Medical, Inc

SPH Medical is a leading provider of clinical education and solutions to help hospitals reduce the risk of staff and patient injuries and their associated costs. SPH Medical focuses on three key areas; education, safe patient handling, and infection prevention.

ICU Patients benefit from Early Patient Mobility

Contact SPH Medial today to help mobilize patient safely, implement early patient mobility programs, improve outcomes and reduce the risk of injury to both patients and staff.
Tel: 1-844-3-SPHMED

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