Does the use of friction reducing devices reduce the exposure to high-force horizontal transfers

Transferring a person from lying to lying frequently occurs in healthcare, e.g. bed to trolley, treatment tables, theatre departments and ambulance services. Transferring patients has long been identified as a contributory cause of MSD in healthcare processes. The provision of friction removing material is accepted as a sensible solution to reduce the biomechanical load for horizontal transfers. Little evidence has reported the consequences of not following best practice guidelines when using friction removing devices. This study explored routes to error in an NHS Trust for a range of horizontal transfers and investigated the level of knowledge within the workforce to complete these transfers. A questionnaire survey (n=170) showed that a high percentage of staff reported that horizontal transfers using slide sheet devices were not being performed optimally. A laboratory study quantified the force differences between a best practice transfer and the various erroneous methods. The additional forces showed up to 100% increase in the amount of effort for healthcare workers for each transfer not performed correctly. Based on the reported error an intervention was implemented that simplified the slide sheet protocol across the trust. Only one single slide sheet was provided in all areas to ensure full coverage of the bed and allowed all transfer types with a single tube sheet. Secondary data showed significant improvements in the ability of staff to follow the new protocol and reduce routes to error.