Here are two opposite decisions on emergency lifting techniques in nursing.

Nurses’ emergency lifting: two contrasting decisions

The claimant was a care assistant at a residential home. A resident suffered a suspected heart attack while sitting in a chair and the claimant was ordered by her manager along with a colleague to move him from the chair to the floor for emergency resuscitation. She had a back injury moving the resident.

It was held they were liable under regulation 4 (1)(b) of the Manual Handling Regulations for failing to carry out a suitable risk assessment so as to reduce the risk of injury through training.

Specifically a copy of the 5th edition of the nurses’ Guide to Handling of People dated 2005 had details of a specific method of transferring a patient to the floor stemming from a 2001 paper by Morton Parry. The defendant should have been aware of this and foreseen that, as CPR training was given regularly, so should manual handling training have been given for safe methods of transfer. The defendant had access to the 4th and 5th editions of the Handling of People but had made no efforts to train individual staff on a practical basis.

Susan Margaret Jurgens -v- Doncaster & South Humber. Doncaster County Court, 20 April 2006.

By contrast a case run to trial on the issue of bad lifts in emergency situations in an NHS Trust was lost.

A patient had collapsed with a suspected seizure. The claimant alleged she was instructed by a staff nurse to take the patient from the floor of the men’s wash room back to his bed. The claimant alleged that she should not have been asked to perform the lift as she had a prior shoulder injury and someone else should have been called to help rather than her and also that a hoist could and should have been used.

The Judge found that this was an emergency situation and the patient had to be moved as quickly as possible.

He made a strong point of saying that he found the Manual Handling Regulations were too onerous and the law was moving in the wrong direction because of them.

He also said that patients will be and must be put ahead of nursing staff. Permission for leave to appeal was refused.

Jasmin Lancaster -v- South East Partnership NHS Trust. Southend on Sea County Court, 11 April 2006.