Patient Lifting Systems in Critical Care Units

Critical care units are home to some of the weakest and most vulnerable patients in a hospital. So designing an overhead hoisting system that will meet the needs of both patients and staff is incredibly important. Patient lifting devices need to work harmoniously with other equipment in the room, as well as providing safe and smooth transfers for patients in the unit. We’ve thought of three key things to consider when designing a hoist layout for a critical care unit.

1/ Get the right layout

Ceiling track hoists need to provide flexibility in where they can move in critical care units. Furniture will be moved around from place to place in the room to provide the best solution possible to the patient, so hoists can’t just be stuck in one place. To tackle this, we always recommend a X-Y system (also referred to as a H-frame). This gives staff the ability to move furniture almost anywhere in the room and still have peace of mind that the hoist will reach it.

Patient lifting systems should always be specified with a ceiling-mounted pendant in mind. Critical care units often have pendants fitted at the head of the patient’s bed, providing easy-to-access control for staff. Because they are fitted to the ceiling, these pendants can clash with hoist system if they’re not considered in the design stages. We tend to overcome this by installing two parallel fixed rails running past the pendant, with end stops installed in front of the pendant to prevent clashes from occurring.

2/ Infection control

Another big concern for any critical care unit is infection control. The last thing you need on a ward full of critically ill people is equipment that harbours infections and bacteria. It is imperative that all items used in a critical care unit are as clean as possible at all times. With patient lifting systems, if you don’t choose the right equipment or installation method, then you could be putting patients at a higher risk.

Hoist tracking can be difficult to clean, and if it is hung from the ceiling, then it just provides an extra surface for dust and dirt to collect over time. That’s why we recommend that any hoist systems installed in a critical care unit be inset to the finished ceiling. This means that they are installed flush to the ceiling, and do not hang below. This reduces the space available for bacteria to settle and grow, which in turn is better for maintaining infection control.

It’s also worth mentioning that detachable spreader bars can be used as well. These can be detached and cleaned whenever necessary to further prevent the spread of infection in critical care units.

3/ Lifting positions

Another factor we include when specifying for critical care units is how the patients will be lifted. Of course, any hoist system will use a hoist unit to do the actual lifting, but its highly unlikely that you’ll be moving critically ill patients in and out of slings to transfer them or carry out hygiene procedures.

We often kind that critical care unit will lift patients in a supine position (laid flat in layman’s terms). This is possible with a supine stretcher that can be attached to the hoist unit. We would specify an AirRise260 hoist unit to lift supine stretchers. This used on a manual traverse rail allows the carers to move the patient to the precise location with ease and dignity. Furthermore, the stretcher can be detached and cleaned to uphold infection control standards.

These are the main three things we consider whenever designing hoist systems for critical care units. From the logistics of the layout itself, through to the hospital protocols of infection control, hoist systems need to deliver a lot in critical care unit. Just always consider the layout with pendants, infection control, and how the patient will be lifted. If you need any other advice on patient lifting systems in critical care units, then get in touch with our team!