Improve Spinal Block Safety as well as Epidural and Lumbar Puncture safety with the Epidural Positioning Device
CategoriesPatient Handling

Advancements in Spinal Block Safety


The Epidural Positioning Device Improving Spinal Block Safety

There have been many advancements in Safe Patient Handling over the recent years. One very simple advancement has been the SPH Medical Epidural Positioning Device. This simple tool offers improved patient comfort and safety while positioning patients in the ideal flexed spine position. Most importantly it protects the caregivers, nurses, and anesthesia techs that use it and prevents staff injuries. When patients have surgery like a hip or knee replacement or go into labor before delivering a baby, they are commonly given pain relief via an epidural injection or spinal block. Any hospital unit can utilize an epidural positioning device (EPD) to improve a patient’s stability and comfort while they are receiving a spinal block. This device, also known as an Epidural Chair, decreases the risk of musculoskeletal injury to clinical staff as they position a patient to provide an epidural procedure as well as improves spinal block safety. Using this specialized equipment makes it easier for nurses, anesthesiologists, and other health care professionals to engage in safe patient handling practices at all times.

Many surgeons who perform complete knee or hip replacements prefer to recommend spinal blocks rather than general anesthesia for their patients. This treatment allows patients to start moving right away as they recover from surgery. The epidural positioning device can safely position patients in a seated position during many different types of procedures. Nursing staff and other qualified medical professionals in a Surgery Department or Labor and Delivery Unit can make adjustments to the device so that it can accommodate a variety of body types.

Safety and comfort improved with the EPD for Spinal Blocks, Epidurals, Lumbar Puncture and Thoracentesis

Safely Perform an Epidural or Spinal Blocks with the EPD

When a patient is seated at bedside or on a stretcher supported by an Epidural Chair, medical professionals can safely perform a spinal block or epidural procedure without difficulty. Funny enough, it’s not actually a chair as it has no seat! The patient actually sits on the bed or gurney and The EPD is brought over to them to provide support. As a patient leans forward against the EPD, the device promotes an ideal degree of thoracic, lumbar, and cervical spinal flexion that makes it easy for an anesthesiologist to insert a needle between their vertebrae. The specialty chair supports the patient so that staff members will never need to use their own weight to stabilize, hold, fix, or balance their body. Nurses and other clinical professionals who bear the weight of their patients can suffer sustained physical stress that can damage their own joints after a period of time. An unstable, large, or medicated patient can easily harm a staff member via improper physical contact. Using this specialized chair also decreases the chance that a patient or staff member will be injured from a slip or fall. Injuries can also be caused when sliding or rolling furniture or equipment strikes or collides with a patient or staff member.

An Epidural Chair can greatly benefit a hospital’s orthopedic surgery department or labor and delivery unit. This device is easy to add to any inventory of essential equipment. Keeping and using an epidural positioning device may increase spinal block safety and decrease a hospital’s risk of liability. According to researchers at Stanford University, the number of annual epidural procedures undertaken in the United States is increasing. The journal Anesthesiology published a report in 2018 stating that from 2009 to 2015, a large percentage of the 17 million women who delivered babies received a spinal analgesic. 68% of women who were at a normal weight and 76% of women who were overweight received this epidural treatment during labor. In 2008, 10% fewer pregnant women received the same epidural procedure. As spinal blocks become more frequent, patients and staff face greater chances of experiencing accidental injury, doing harm to equipment, wasting time, and enduring unfortunate or unsatisfying situations. Adding an EPD to a hospital’s depository of specialty equipment promotes safety and well-being for staff and patients and enhances the overall healthcare experience.


Anesthesiology September 2018, Vol. 129, 448–458.

Tracie White. “Epidurals increase in popularity, Stanford study finds.” Scope 10K, Stanford Medicine, 26 Jun. 2018. Accessed 3 May 2022.

Alexander J. Butwick, Cynthia A. Wong, and Nan Guo. “Maternal Body Mass Index and Use of Labor Neuraxial Analgesia: A Population-based Retrospective Cohort Study.”Anesthesiology, Vol. 129, Sept. 2018, ASA Publications. Accessed 3 May 2022.

Spinal Block Safety is improved with the SPH Medical EPD.
CategoriesPatient Handling

Staff Safety During Spinal Blocks

In the past, patients who required analgesia given through an epidural or spinal blocks often required a handful of nurses and other clinical staff to conduct the procedure safely. Patients were held manually in a seated position with a flexed spine, often necessitating multiple medical professionals to support, provide counterpressure, or in some cases, catch a falling patient. Each of these manual patient handling tasks put the staff at risk.  But now both patients and staff can successfully experience an epidural or spinal block procedure safely with the use of an epidural positioning device or EPD.

Using an EPD in the Surgery Department

When spinal blocks are necessary to provide patient pain relief prior to a surgical procedure, multiple anesthesia techs, nurses or other medical professionals may be employed to make sure that a patient is positioned correctly. But using an epidural positioning device can ensure that the surgery department is following safe patient-handling procedures without putting staff at risk while helping patients remain in the correct posture for the spinal bock injection. Since the use of the device will require no additional staff members once the patient is engaged, surgical techs and staff can be utilized for their expertise rather than taking part in holding or securing patients before or after the spinal is administered.

Using an Epidural Chair in the Labor and Delivery Unit

Patients preparing to give birth are frequently shifted into a seated, flexedSpinal Block and Epidural Safety is Improved along with patient safety with the SPH Medical EPD position to receive epidural analgesia prior to giving birth. While tens of millions of epidurals are administered each year with their use only expected to escalate in the future, L&D staff are tasked with following safe patient handling guidelines that can be even trickier at the end stages of pregnancy. Many Labor and Delivery Unit facilities rely on the security of using an EPD as an injury prevention device for patients, nurses, OR techs and anesthesia techs. When a pregnant person must be secured in an uncomfortable or unstable position, like the seated and flexed position required for epidurals, they may require extra support from one or more staff members. Holding on, providing counterpressure or catching an unstable patient can hurt not only the patient but could easily injure a nurse or other medical professional needlessly when support from an epidural chair is available to provide stability.

Protecting Staff and Patients

Placing patients into the optimal cervical, thoracic or lumbar flexion is key to the successful administration of spinal or epidural medications. Patients undergoing hip or knee replacements, back procedures or delivering a baby all benefit from the correct placement of their medication or analgesic that will ensure their comfort before and during the procedure as well as promote a quick recovery afterward. But medical staff benefit just as much from the use of epidural chair equipment since they are now freed up from the physical requirements of holding and supporting patients who are undergoing this type of placement-sensitive procedure. Since ensuring patient safety is paramount for all medical professionals, those who assist in surgical and L&D situations where patients may fall or need physical support can avoid putting themselves at risk for their own injuries when a medical safety device like an epidural positioning device is utilized.

Contact SPH Medical to learn more about the EPD or request a quote.


Improve Patient and Staff safety with the EPD
CategoriesPatient Handling

Spinal Blocks Epidural Safety Trends

Epidurals and spinal blocks are types of anesthesia that reduce or eliminate a person’s pain sensation. Spinal anesthesia is gained popularity over time as it is deemed to be safer for patients than general anesthesia and has a lower mortality rate for expectant mothers. Although these two forms of spinal anesthesia are similar the difference is needle placement. For spinal blocks, the needle is placed into the dural sac that contains cerebrospinal fluid where an epidural is injected into the epidural space. Both can be used to treat severe pain in the lower regions of the body. An Epidural injection is often used relieve pain from labor contractions in pregnant women. Another key difference is the length of time that each shot will offer pain relief. A spinal block is a single shot that typically lasts a couple of hours where an epidural actually leaves a catheter inserted in the back to allow a continuous drip of medication and the pain relief can be extended to handle a longer period of time, like 10-18 hours of labor contractions.

Spinal Blocks and Epidural Trends in Healthcare

Looking at the data of spinal anesthesia trends in surgery centers and hospitals both physicians and patients are choosing spinal blocks due to the safety and rapid recovery time. Many total knee and total hip replacement surgeries are using spinal blocks for this very reason.  Surgeons want their patients up and moving post surgery to improve patient outcomes. In 2021 Penn Medicine published a news release addressing the myth that general anesthesia is more dangerous than a spinal block. They make the point that patient deaths, outcomes, and delirium occurring within 60 days post surgery is about equal in a study that included 1600 hip-fracture patients across north America.  Patients are often given the choice of anesthesia and it would appear that Penn’s press release is well intentioned to reduce patient fears. And they make a very good case to equalize the risk between both techniques. They note that the post surgery delirium experienced by patients receiving a block vs. general anesthesia was about equal, However, undergoing general anesthesia often requires intubation and can lead to other side effects. It’s clear that most surgeons are recommending spinal blocks for their total knees and hips to reduce risks and improve outcomes but patients will likely have a choice.

Epidural Positioning Device

Epidural Positioning Device (EPD), also known as the Epidural Chair, is a key development in Safe Patient Handling solutions that helps position patients safely and securely in the ideal position so that an epidural or spinal block can be administered safely.  The EPD is a simple and easy-to-use and positioning device that has gained popularity worldwide. The Epidural Positioning Device or Epidural Chair is a portable device that provides the caregiver or nurse with the help they need for accurate positioning of patients while avoiding the risk of injury associated with manually positioning the patient and holding them while the needle is inserted.  An epidural Positioning Device (EPD) is commonly used in the pre-op area or surgical suite to administer the spinal block.  It is now the standard of care in Labor and Delivery units where epidurals are performed all day long.

Advantages of Epidural Positioning Device

  • Supports up to 600lbs
  • Reduces risk of injury to nursing and technical staff
  • Used for Epidural’s, Spinal Blocks, and Thoracentesis
  • Improves patient comfort and patient satisfaction scores
  • Improved efficiency and throughput for busy departments
  • Portable and moves from room to room easily
  • Assembles in less than 5 minutes
  • Creates a safe standardized process to improve patient and staff safety
SPH Medical's EPD Improves Safety
CategoriesPatient Handling

Safety During Spinal Blocks and Epidurals

The use of the EPD for patient positioning during spinal blocks and other procedures

An epidural or spinal block offers patients an option to remain awake and alert while receiving pain relief. They can even help patients to get back on their feet faster after surgeries and other procedures. Some doctors use epidurals to help patients acquire relief from chronic pain as well. An experienced medical professional blocks nerves by introducing an anesthetic, steroid or other medication via straight injection or a small catheter into the lower back. Epidural pain relief is often used during back, hip and knee surgery and the delivery of a baby. Yet, epidurals can pose risks to both patients and medical personnel. Read on to learn more about these risks and how staff at hospitals and surgical facilities are introducing safety during spinal blocks with an epidural positioning device (EPD).

How Common Is Epidural Pain Relief?

According to a Stanford study published in 2018, 71% of 17 million women received some form of spine-based pain relief during childbirth between 2009 and 2014. The researchers pulled the data from birth certificate records.

In a more recent 2021 study, also by Stanford, researchers learned that approximately 2.8 million pregnant women receive epidurals every year during delivery. As noted by the Mayo Clinic, approximately 50% of women who give birth at a hospital in a labor and delivery unit request epidural pain relief.

What Sort of Patient Injuries Can Take Place?

Accidental nerve damage is one of the most common injuries. Patients who experience nerve damage after an epidural often lose feeling, movement and strength in spots or extremities. Patients can also experience allergic reactions to medication, blood clots and infections.

Additionally, Stanford researchers found during the 2021 study that approximately 28,000 women across the nation experience an accidental puncture of the spinal dura mater membrane yearly. They tracked a small sample of women from the point of delivery up to 12 months and found that 74% of the new mothers experienced excruciating, debilitating headaches, known as post dural puncture headaches (PDPH), two months after delivery. By comparison, only 38% of mothers who didn’t experience an unintentional puncture had headaches. By six months, 52% of the first group still had headaches.

Of course, this type of injury and resulting headaches can happen to any patient who receives an epidural, including those who receive treatment through a surgery department. Other symptoms associated with PDPH include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tinnitus, vision disturbances, lower pack or neck pain and physical stiffness.

What Risks Do Medical Personnel Face?

Anesthesiologists, nurses, operating room technicians and others must physically move patients into and out of position for an epidural. This type of movement often requires that they support a patient’s full weight with their bodies. They risk muscle and tissue strains and tears and back injury from attempting to lift too much weight or catching a falling patient. If a patient loses balance, they risk falling with the patient and injuries associated with falls. They must also maintain patients in a particular seated position during the procedure, which can put strain on their arms and back.

How Does an Epidural Positioning Device Provide Safety During Spinal Blocks?

An epidural positioning device, such as an epidural chair, makes it easier for staff in a surgery department or labor and delivery unit to perform safety during spinal blocks. Although called an epidural chair, the EPD is actually a portable tool that the nurse or technician places in front of the bed or table where the patient sits during the procedure.

They can position the patient with optimal cervical, thoracic and lumbar spinal flexion. This means that the patient leans forward with a flexed spine while seated, which is the best position for a professional to perform the needle insertion to reduce the chance of an error. Instead of the nurse or technician holding the patient in the right position, the patient maintains the correct position by leaning against supports.


Stanford Medicine; Epidurals increase in popularity; Tracie White; June 26, 2018

Stanford Medicine; Post-epidural headaches can be more serious than previously known; Tracie White; August 2, 2021
Epidural: What It Is, Procedure, Risks & Side Effects; Cleveland Clinic medical professional; 10/14/2021

CategoriesPatient Handling

Improve Safety During Spinal Blocks

According to MedlinePlus, a trusted online resource for up-to-date information related to diseases and a host of wellness issues, a spinal block is commonly prescribed to patients undergoing genital, urinary tract, or other lower body medical procedures. They are also prescribed to pregnant women, in addition to epidural anesthesia, before they are due to give birth in a hospital’s labor and delivery unit. Also known as spinal anesthesia, a spinal block is a type of neuraxial regional anesthesia that involves injecting a local anesthetic or opioid directly into the subarachnoid space to block pain signals that would otherwise travel to the brain. Spinal blocks do a terrific job of keeping pain at bay so that patients can get through a needed medical procedure. But they can sometimes pose a danger to patients and medical teams alike. Improving safety during spinal blocks can be done with an epidural chair or epidural positioning device.

Safety During Spinal Blocks: The Dangers They Pose to Patients and Medical Teams Alike

Studies show that spinal blocks can increase a patient’s chances of experiencing low blood pressure, meningitis or abscess, hematomas, difficulty urinating, seizures, and headaches. As far as medical teams are concerned, many suffer musculoskeletal injuries due to lifting, repositioning, or catching falling patients that have received spinal blocks. Most of these injuries involve back pain and back strain that is so severe that many say they can’t work for a few days following their injury. To further put this into perspective, in 2016, the 8,730 days-away-from-work cases filed by hospitals involved medical teams that suffered musculoskeletal injuries while tending to patients in a hospital’s surgery department or labor and delivery unit. An epidural positioning device (EPD), such as an epidural chair, could have helped medical teams in these hospitals avoid many of these injuries, as well as improve safety during spinal blocks and epidurals.

How an Epidural Chair Can Help Improve Hospital Safety

Manually positioning or moving patients from one location to another is the leading cause of injuries among nurses, operating room technicians, and anesthesiologists involved in treating the roughly 324,000 patients who receive spinal blocks each year. These injuries have motivated many hospitals to invest heavily in medical assistive devices to improve patient handling and lower the rate of injuries among hospital workers. One such device is the epidural chair. Also known as an epidural positioning device or an EPD, epidural chairs support the arms, head, chest, and feet of patients receiving spinal blocks. The support they provide minimizes the risk of falls and makes it much easier to transport patients from one location to another as needed for their medical treatments. Studies show that hospitals that use epidural chairs file fewer day-away-from-work cases than those that do not.


Whether we are discussing safety in a hospital’s surgery department or its labor and delivery unit, EPDs should be part of that discussion. And this is because they make epidural pain relief via spinal blocks easier and markedly safer for everyone involved.

The SPH Medical EPD improves safety for Spinal positioning
CategoriesPatient Handling

Using an EPD for Patient Positioning During Spinal Blocks

Most medical professionals who take part in orthopedic surgery say an epidural positioning device (EPD) significantly improves safety and comfort for patients getting a subarachnoid block and then undergoing orthopedic surgery. To better understand why they feel this way, it helps to know a little more about subarachnoid blocks and the type of orthopedic surgeries in which they are most beneficial. Using the epidural positioning chair for patient positioning during spinal blocks helps the nursing staff as well as the patient.

Why an Epidural Positioning Device Might Be Necessary Before and Even After a Subarachnoid Block

So that everyone is on the same page, a subarachnoid block, also known as a spinal block, is a general anesthesia alternative capable of producing an intense sensory, motor, and sympathetic blockade that keeps pain at bay.  The process entails injecting an anesthetic or opioid directly into the subarachnoid space via a fine needle.  These injections go into the patient’s back and leave them feeling numb from the waist down, making them ideal for orthopedic surgery involving the legs, hips, knees, and ankles.  The effects of a subarachnoid block can last from 2 to 4 hours.  That said, problems can arise when patients are left numb from the waist down after receiving a subarachnoid block injection.  To minimize the risk of patients falling when they have to transition from one location to another, medical staff will have to manually hold and support them, which requires a reasonable degree of counter pressure.  But even still, falls do happen.  And sometimes, both the patient and medical personnel end up suffering injuries as a result.

The Dangers in Patient Positioning During Spinal Blocks

According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, the subarachnoid block or spinal block is the most widely practiced anesthesia technique used in surgeries involving the lower extremities, including orthopedic surgeries. In 2017, around 22 million Americans underwent orthopedic surgery of some kind. By the end of 2022, a projected 28 million will have undergone orthopedic surgery, according to a Globe Newswire study. Some of the nurses and anesthesia technicians involved in these surgeries either already have or eventually will suffer injuries due to not using an EPD, with falls, back strain, or both being to blame for the vast majority of them.

How Does the EPD Help for Patient Positioning During Spinal Blocks and Surgical Procedures?

First and foremost, EPDs are not limited to nurses and anesthesia technicians in a surgery department alone.  They can come in handy during post-surgery when patients are still in pain or find it difficult to move certain limbs.  Even in a surgery department, nurses and anesthesia technicians use them for non-orthopedic surgeries.  It is not uncommon to see them used before and after most surgeries involving a patient’s lower extremities.  EPDs can also come in handy in a labor and delivery unit to help move women from one location to another after childbirth, especially if they received epidural pain relief beforehand.  Whether in a surgery department, labor and delivery unit, or elsewhere in a medical setting, all EPDs work more or less the same.  They allow medical staff to position patients correctly and comfortably to facilitate cervical, thoracic and lumbar flexion.

To that end, the benefits of EPD, also known as an epidural chair, are as follows:

  • Can accommodate various patient body types
  • Can support patients weighing up to 600 lbs
  • Keeps patients who are dizzy or otherwise uncoordinated due to an epidural from falling
  • Allows nurses and other medical staff members time to tend to more pressing tasks

Bottom Line

Helping a patient get into a new position, especially when epidural pain relief is involved, can be challenging and dangerous.  Using EPDs or epidural chairs can make life easier, not to mention safer, for everyone involved.

The EPD improves nursing and patient safety
CategoriesPatient Handling

Staff Safety During Epidurals and Spinal Blocks

No Room for Error When It Comes To Staff Safety

It’s hard to imagine health care without anesthesia or analgesia. Even after 175 years, they’re a medical marvel that no one takes for granted. Technology and innovation may evolve at lightning speed, but there are still no shortcuts during epidurals and spinal blocks. Whenever anesthetists place a needle in a patient, they summon all their knowledge, training, skill, experience and powers of concentration. Where the spinal cord and nerve roots are concerned, there’s no room for error. Simply put, if epidural placement is inaccurate, pain is the least of anyone’s worries.

Positioning the Patient: What’s the Problem?

There’s more to getting pain medicine to the right place than most people realize. Before the needle can be positioned, the patient must be positioned. That’s almost always easier said than done, especially when the patient is elderly or feeble, has difficulty following instructions, or outweighs the assisting nurse. That last scenario is quite common and highly problematic.

In 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses were injured on the job at a significantly higher rate than full-time workers in other occupations. Fifty-one percent of injuries involved muscle strains, sprains or tears, and more than a fourth of those were back-related. The average recovery time away from work was seven days.

Work-related MSDs, or musculoskeletal disorders, are injuries caused by lifting or overexertion. In 2016, MSDs accounted for a whopping 44 percent of RNs’ occupational injuries.

Needless to say, if nurses go down, the whole system goes down. Maybe you’ve never given or received epidurals and spinal blocks. If not, you’re probably thinking, “How hard can it be to tell a patient how to sit?”

Well, it’s a little like telling a ballerina to hold a picture-perfect arabesque while the photographer tries different angles.

That’s an extreme example, but the point is this: Patients are asked to assume an unnatural position and sustain it throughout a tricky procedure that can’t be rushed. Incredibly, some rather primitive methods are still employed.

The Perils of Manual Positioning

To achieve the ideal position, it’s not uncommon for staff members to prop up patients on rickety bedside tables and unwieldy pillows. Nurses and anesthesiologists who lack state-of-the-art equipment must be resourceful.

With any luck, the bedside table won’t collapse or tip. Hopefully, the pillows won’t slip to the floor with the patient close behind. Women receiving epidurals before hard labor, even those who avoid injury, are in no mood for such nonsense. The assisting staff member could easily become the next patient.

Given all the things that could go wrong with manual positioning, it’s easy to see why EPD use is becoming more widespread.

The Epidural Positioning Device

For epidurals and spinal blocks it is necessary, the EPD (epidural positioning device) is a godsend. The design takes several things into account:

  • Ease and accuracy of epidural placement.
  • Patient stability and comfort.
  • Weight support up to 600 pounds.
  • Portability.
  • Staff safety.

The epidural positioner is not just a luxury item any more than a seat belt is a nice accessory for a car. EPDs make it easier for anesthesiologists to do their job. EPDs keep nurses healthy and on top of their game. EPDs help patients receive first-rate care with optimal outcomes. Given all those benefits and more, EPDs are increasingly considered necessary.

The Epidural Positioner in Thoracentesis

EDPs are widely used in labor and delivery, surgery and orthopedics. They are even useful in radiology departments.

Thoracentesis, also known as pleural tap, is a procedure to remove excess fluid in the lungs. A little fluid is appropriate for lubrication; it keeps the membranes involved in breathing from rubbing together. However, too much fluid interferes with lung capacity. Labored breathing and pain result. Excess fluid can also interfere with imaging or diagnosing disease.

In any case, thoracentesis also requires careful patient positioning and needle placement. During Thoracentesis patients must be supported in a comfortable position over a prolonged period while drainage occurs. Radiologists and their imaging teams are thankful for the EPDs that make their jobs easier and prevent injuries.

The uses and benefits of the epidural positioner become more apparent all the time. This is one innovation that will be around for a while.

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