Mobile Patient Lifts: Lightening the Load for Healthcare Workers

February 1, 2009 | Evaluations & Guidance


Patient lifts are instrumental in preventing musculoskeletal injuries in healthcare workers. They are capable of supporting patients who are unable to bear their own weight, and they are designed to hoist and transfer patients safely to and from beds, wheelchairs, toilets, or bathtubs, as well as for picking up fallen patients from the floor or helping patients stand. Lifts can be used in a variety of settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, and private residences, and specialized slings are available that can allow lifts to be used as ambulation aids or to assist patients in gait training.

In this article, we focus on mobile floor lifts, which consist of an extendable wheeled base that fits beneath the patient’s bed, a mast, a boom or lifting arm, a hand control, a battery, a hanger bar, and slings. They can be transported from room to room when not in use and can be used in all areas of a hospital.

Mobile lifts come in two main design types, based on how the lift raises the patient: vertical lifts and crane lifts. For a more detailed description of each type of mobile lift and its parts, see the Technology Briefing section below.

When shopping for mobile lifts, you should focus mainly on ease of use and quality of construction. However, other factors—such as whether your facility prefers a unit that can be used for a wide variety of applications—may play a role in your decision as well.

In this Evaluation, we examine seven mobile floor lifts from four suppliers:

We rate each product based on its performance, safety, and human factors design. We also provide an overview of the technology and outline some of the state laws that have been enacted to promote safe lifting practices, including the use of patient lifts.

​Table:Evaluation at a Glance

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