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Archive June 2016 XVII, No. 6

Stretcher-Chairs for Safer Patient Handling

Ready to transform your facility into a no-lift, no-transfer environment?

Kendal Gapinski

Kendal Gapinski, Contributing Editor


stretcher chair SAFE PATIENT HANDLING Stretcher chairs transport and support patients from admission to discharge on a single surface.

Surgery requires multiple patient transfers from surface to surface along the perioperative path. In the traditional patient-handling model, caregivers must move patients 3 times:

  • Upon arrival in the OR, you transfer the patient from a stretcher onto the OR table.
  • After surgery, you transfer the patient back to the stretcher.
  • At some point in recovery, you transfer the patient to a recliner.

All that lifting and moving not only takes time, but also increases the risk of staff injuries and patient falls. Stretcher-chairs do away with your transfer problems. They let you wheel patients from admission to discharge on a single surface that morphs from chair to transport stretcher to OR table to recovery recliner. With the push of a button on a motorized model, you can raise and lower the machine's back, legs and height, taking patients from supine to upright and every sitting and lying position in between, even Trendelenburg.

Stretcher-chairs start at around $5,000, but they can go up to $20,000, depending on the system and any added features. To make sure yours doesn't end up in storage, here are 3 key features to consider.

1 Weight and width
The surgical managers we talked to say that the chair's weight limit and width can make or break the chair's effectiveness. "You really need to check the weight limit," says Barbara Getlan, RN, BSN, administrator of the Dulaney Eye Institute in Towson, Md. "Some of them are designed for use only in smaller patients, so which one you purchase can really depend on your patients' weight."

Some managers regret that some of their convertible tables go unused because they have too low of a weight limit for regular use. "The model I have has a weight limit of 325 pounds," says JoAnne Looker, RN, CNOR, clinical director of the Winchester (Va.) Eye Surgery Center. "When I have a patient heavier than that, I have to put them on a regular stretcher without hydraulics."

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