Gait belts 101: A tool for patient and nurse safety

Author: Wendy Wintersgill, MSN, RN, CRRN, ONC, ACNS-BC

Tips for assessing patient mobility and using gait belts

All nurses want to keep their patients safe, but falls and injuries when moving patients are a common problem. According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, patient falls occur at a rate of three to five per 1,000 bed-days, 700,000 to 1 million hospitalized patients fall each year, approximately 50% of the 1.6 million U.S. nursing home residents fall every year, and nearly 10% of Medicare skilled nursing facility residents experience a fall resulting in significant injury. Among RNs, overexertion and bodily reaction (the way that the body responds or reacts to an external influence) were the most prevalent events (45.6% of all cases within the profession) that led to occupational injuries and illnesses, according to a 2016 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

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Hardwiring safety at the point of care

Author: Wendy Wintersgill, MSN, RN, CRRN, ONC, ACNS-BC, and Gary A. Greenslade, MPT

An organizational road map to gait belt use.

Safe patient handling training for nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and nurse aides should include the use of transfer aids, lifts, and gait belts. (See Mobility and lift safety tips.) Gait belts, the focus of this article, can help enable functional mobility and reduce patient falls and patient and staff injuries. Without gait belt use, an organization has a gap in its safe patient handling and mobility programs. (See Fall prevention and organizational health.)

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