The benefits of integrating ergonomically designed furniture and equipment are well documented and include a wide range of health, safety, and comfort benefits.
In medical environments, ergonomics are especially important because of the multitude of people they can impact -- and we’re not just talking about patients.
Of course, the comfort and safety of patients seeking treatment or recovering from surgery is a top priority. But what about the doctors and nurses who spend most of the day on their feet? And what about the guests and overnight visitors at the facility?
Opportunities to integrate medical ergonomic improvements can be found all over medical facilities. These nine ideas will create a better experience for patients, workers, and visitors.
9 Ideas for Medical Ergonomic Improvements
Ergonomic medical equipment is ideal for patients' rooms, labs, and other rooms:
- Medical centrifuges
- Microscope slide staining equipment
- Blood draw stations
- IV poles/stations
- Transfer chairs, arm latches, & footrests
- Bed lift mechanisms
- Sleeper chairs/sofas
- Over-the-bed tables
- Medical mobile computer carts
1. Medical Centrifuges
What makes an ergonomic medical centrifuge? It's all about who is regularly using it.
Today's most ergonomically sound desktop centrifuge can be loaded at a low height and is easy to close without significant force. This helps reduce strain on the professional using it, regardless of their height.
The best way to achieve this safe and convenient solution is with a counterbalance or spring-assisted hinge mechanism on the lid.
See the safety features of our counterbalance hinge motion controls:
2. Microscope Slide Staining Equipment
Prolonged microscope use can cause neck and back pain -- why add another safety concern on top of that? Thanks to ergonomic improvements, today's medical microscope equipment can help make for a more comfortable working environment.
Outfitting your microscope slide staining equipment with counterbalance hinges can make the relatively heavy lid easy to lift. (See the Ventana Benchmark Ultra for an example.) This prevents the lid from rattling the loaded slides when it closes. A counterbalanced lid provides both safety and convenience.
3. Ergonomic Blood Draw Station Equipment
Ergonomics in medical laboratory applications applies to the patient, too.
Take blood draw stations, for instance. Creative design can enhance both patient comfort and nurse convenience.
Consider adding a flat surface with a hinge mechanism that folds over in front of the patients so they can put their arm on it comfortably. You can flip the armrest up and to the side when not in use. This feature makes it easier for patients to get in and out of the chair.
4. Ergonomic IV Poles/Stations
Similar to blood draw stations, IV poles and stations offer many of the same comfort and convenience benefits compared to standard models. Potential features include:
- Ergonomic, heavy-duty, single-column infusion stands
- Ergonomic hand cranks
5. Ergonomic Transfer Chairs
Transfer chairs are necessary to get patients from one room to another for treatment, therapy, or discharge. If you're serious about improving ergonomics, you'll want to invest in an ergonomic transport chair that adjusts to any patient and facilitates the transfer process. A chair that accomplishes this:
- Relieves pressure on the assistant’s back
- Stabilizes weight distribution
- Makes the transfer more comfortable for the patient
- Keeps the patient’s feet off the floor
Ergonomic footrests on the bottom of the chair allow patients to rest their legs instead of holding them up during transport. Then, when they need to stand up, they can put weight on the rest.
While seemingly a minor component, don't forget the transfer arm latch. This allows you to move the chair arm out of the way. Many patients are in a weakened state and have an easier time rising to the side instead of straight forward.
Ergonomic transfer chairs are one of the smartest ways to reduce injury risk and increase comfort in patients.
6. Bed Lift Mechanisms
For some patients, the hospital bed is the only one that they'll know for days, weeks, or even months. It's important to further aid -- and not hinder -- the recovery process.
Automatic, motion-controlled adjustments can help patients sit up and lay down when necessary, then safely lock in place at the end of the motion. Rather than calling in a nurse, all they have to do is push a button themselves to activate the bed.
7. Ergonomic Sleeper Chairs/Sofas
Let’s not forget about friends and family! The right types of sleeper chairs and sofas for overnight stays aren't just functional, they also support the body properly.
Hospital sleeper chairs are essentially recliners that go flat to make a bed. A great sleeper chair design saves space in a crowded patient room while adding comfort for visitors, who may be just as stressed and anxious as the patient.
8. Over-the-Bed Tables
The average cost of a fall accident is upwards of $14,000. Providing a multipurpose bed design is just as much about patient convenience as it is about saving money.
Over-the-bed tables are ideal for patients recovering from surgeries that limit their mobility. They can sit up safely and enjoy a coffee or crossword to pass the time. And, as we saw in #7, there are advantages to using multipurpose furniture for small spaces.
9. Mobile Medical Workstations
A computer cart on wheels has been a common sight in hospital wings for years. Today there are a huge variety of design options and accessories to make it the nurse’s equivalent of a Swiss army knife of medical devices.
Studies estimate that nonadjustable desks cause about 2x as many workplace health issues compared to adjustable desks. Popular features on mobile medical carts include adjustable keyboard tray mechanisms and adjustable desk height.
The versatility of these workstations is a big benefit to medical ergonomics, plus they have other positive side effects. They’re a more efficient alternative to running back and forth to a nurse’s station to enter data.
Medical Ergonomics: A Special Case
Patient and caretaker comfort should be a top priority for medical products. Sick and injured people, as well as their families, count on their local medical facility to be safe and to follow best practices.
The benefits of ergonomics are well-documented for the average 9-to-5 worker. But medical ergonomic equipment is a special case -- especially in a facility where staff spends most of the time on their feet. Medical ergonomics even helps transform veterinarian offices, too.
Look for an ergonomic medical equipment supplier that uses durable materials and can tailor the design to your needs.
Checklist │Track Your Ergonomic Equipment Integration
To learn more about how to integrate ergonomic equipment into your medical facility, download our free Ergonomic Equipment Integration Checklist below:
This blog was produced in April 2020 and was recently updated to reflect current and up-to-date information.