Aim This study explored decision-making regarding use of safe patient handling and mobility (SPHM) technology among registered nurses (RN) and nursing assistants (NA). Background Lifting injuries are common among healthcare workers. Despite development of standards for SPHM, the introduction of regulation for monitoring access to SPHM technology, and implementation of education programs and process improvements, threat of injury remains a concern. Although access to SPHM equipment is associated with decreased workplace injuries, access alone does not guarantee use. Questions remain concerning how healthcare workers make decisions to use SPHM equipment, and how they weigh decisions against personal safety. Methods A qualitative descriptive study was conducted. Data collection consisted of four 60 min focus groups. Two focus groups consisted of all RNs (n = 14) and two consisted of all NAs (n = 11). Each focus group was audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were coded, repeating concepts identified, and codes collapsed into themes and subthemes. Results Qualitative analysis revealed three major themes: barriers to use, perceived risk, and coordination of care. Barriers to use include subthemes of physical barriers, knowledge and skill, and unit culture. Perceived risk includes patient risk and perceived risk to self. Coordination of care includes patient factors and characteristics, assessment of patient needs and abilities, and interprofessional collaboration. Conclusions These findings provide new knowledge about the complexity of decision making among care providers in the use of SPHM technology. Interprofessional team approaches to patient assessment and care are important components of confident decision making in use of SPHM technology.
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