The Heavy Cost of Improper Lifting

October 18, 2021

HoverTech International’s product engineering – how they work – tends to take center stage in conversations, for good reason. The HoverMatt® Air Transfer System, HoverSling® Transfer and Lift System, and HoverJack® Air Patient Lift are remarkably visual, with design rarely seen in healthcare environments (design like air escape technology that lets HoverMatt float above surfaces, like an air hockey puck, while bearing the weight of a patient).

While we relish opportunities to discuss and even fawn over our products, we’re intentional about bringing conversations back to the why. Why is HoverMatt’s ability to reduce exertion by 80 to 90% so valuable? Why does HoverJack’s lifting technology, which provides a no-lift solution so crucial? (Spoiler: It’s not just their cool features!). Clinical caregivers always know the answer. For anyone who’s unsure, allow us to widen the lens and illustrate the connection between our Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPHM) technology and the pressing problems – including costs – it helps eliminate.

Center for Disease Control (CDC) statistics show that musculoskeletal injuries from physical overexertion in healthcare are among the highest employee injury rates across all industries – more than twice the nationwide average. Eight out of ten nurses work with musculoskeletal pain1, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than 20,000 hospital healthcare workers experience an injury due to overexertion in lifting and repetitive motion tasks2. This means nearly one percent of America’s hospital healthcare workers incur musculoskeletal injuries each year2. Given widely documented increases in patient weight3 and healthcare industry shortages and burdens, these staggering rates show no signs of slowing. Especially during the pandemic.

Beyond the personal and professional tolls such injuries impose on individuals as well as their workplaces (reputational harm, increased risk of turnover, to name a few), there are also the direct financial costs. On average, a workers’ compensation claim is $56,0004,5, and the average cost to replace a nurse is $27,000-$103,0006.

And those are just clinician-related risks. Let’s not forget the toll that improper lifting (shorthand for patient lifting as well as transferring, boosting, positioning, turning, and proning, and even vehicular extraction) can take on patients.

Collectively, these realities were the driving forces behind the development of HoverTech’s products – realities that HoverTech’s Clinical Safety Director Robert Scroggins (MSN, RN, CNOR, CSPHA) has seen firsthand in his 35+ year career.

“When I started working in the operating room (OR) in 1993, OR table capacity was 300 pounds. When I left the OR in 2013, an OR table could hold 1100 pounds and could articulate an 800-pound patient,” Scroggins says, highlighting the increase in patient size played a hand in the rise in injuries. Robert himself sustained a torn rotator cuff twenty years ago while moving a patient in a chair. “The sum total of my experiences led to what felt like a ‘Eureka’ moment the first time I saw HoverMatt. I thought, ‘Where has this product been all my career?’! A safer way to transfer patients with only 2 caregivers.”

And while safer lifting is HoverTech’s driving goal, our solutions are engineered to alleviate yet another mounting healthcare problem: The preservation of skin integrity.

Pressure injuries are serious health issues that hospitals have trouble preventing on a day-to-day basis. They cost a significant amount to treat, and pose a major impact on patients’ lives, not to mention the provider’s ability to extend the appropriate care to affected patients. Each year 2.5 million patients develop pressure injuries, and 60,000 die from their complications.7

“Most insurance companies refuse to reimburse for pressure injuries that can cost a healthcare system upward of $150,000 per incident7,” Scroggins explains. “Allowing for proper moisture evaporation, the reduction of friction and shear, and adequate airflow, HoverTech’s breathable materials offer another opportunity to eliminate common patient injuries and related costs.” He notes that a major U.S. healthcare system started using HoverMatt in July of 2020 in light of a spike in COVID-related pressure injuries. Less than a year later, in June 2021, they reported zero incidents. “I’m getting more questions recently about our products’ relationship to wound care than to staff lifting injury, which probably traces back to this coverage gap.”

Looking to tap the power of products designed to do the work your clinicians aren’t built for – with the added benefit of driving down costs? Contact us. For immediate questions, call our customer support line (800) 471-2776 available Mon-Fri 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM EST.



1 American Nurses Association. 2011 Health and Safety Survey Report. Published August 2011

2 https://www.bls.gov/iif/oshcdnew2018.htm

3 https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

4 AON. Health Care Workers Compensation Barometer Actuarial Analysis, November 2018.

5 Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare. Beyond Getting Started: A Resource Guide for Implementing a Safe Patient Handling Program in the Acute Care Setting, Summer 2011.

6 Li, Y., and C.B. Jones. A literature review of nursing turnover costs. Journal of Nursing Management.   2012;21(3):405-418. (Dollar amounts presented in the text are in 2013 dollars. This is the range of the values presented in the studies calculated in 2013 dollars using the medical care portion of the consumer price index.).

7 Berlowitz D., et al. Preventing Pressure Ulcers in Hospitals: A Toolkit for Improving Quality of Care. Content last reviewed October 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. https://www.ahrq.gov/patient-safety/settings/hospital/resource/pressureulcer/tool/pu1.html.)