The working environment in an operating room is often distinguished by demanding work processes and limitations on available space. As a rule, operating rooms are packed with all kinds of equipment, so staff will often have limited room in which to lift and/or move the patient.
When dealing with bariatric patients, it is not uncommon to need the assistance of 4–6 people to complete the move in the best and gentlest manner possible. This may require carers to work in awkward and ergonomically challenging positions.
As patients in operating rooms are generally under the influence of painkillers and/or anesthetics, they are rarely capable of assisting themselves when they are being lifted, moved and positioned. All in all, operating rooms are often the setting for complex moves – turning patients onto their stomach, for example – and procedures that typically involve multiple staff.
It is also common to have to perform heavy lifting in operating rooms. Lifting legs during skin sterilization processes is a typical example of a procedure that demands long-term static muscle effort.
Common lifting and moving procedures in operating rooms include:
- Lifting extremities to allow washing or sterilization, or as part of the operation itself
- Repositioning patients on the operating table
- Lifting patients with limited movement
- Turning patients positioned on their stomach
- Turning patients onto their side on the operating table
- Positioning thorax pillows
- Moving patients between bed/stretcher trolley and the operating table
- Positioning legs in leg slings