What is a Patient Lift?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2019
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Sometimes referred to as a patient hoist, a patient lift is a hydraulic device that is utilized in many hospitals and other critical care facilities. The lifts are used to gently lift and transport patients who are unable to move on their own volition. Depending on the condition of the patient, one of three different designs of the patient lift is used to manage the transfer.

Sit-to-stand lifts are one of the more common examples of an electric patient lift used in hospital, weight loss clinics, and nursing homes today. These mobile devices can be used to assist in the task of raising a patient from a sitting position to standing upright. It is not unusual for lifts of this type to be used in rehabilitation situations where a patient is attempting to regain mobility skills lost due to an accident.

Another commonly employed patient lifter is known as the floor lift. This device was originally designed in the middle of the 20th century, and can be used to move disabled patients from a bed to a stretcher. Lifts of this type are especially helpful in transporting patients who are morbidly obese, or those who are paralyzed and unable to assist in the move in any fashion. Use of this type of lift means that fewer personnel are required to manage the move, a feature that is very important in a hospital that is operating with a smaller staff.


In recent years, newer health care facilities have included the addition of ceiling lifts in the design of patient rooms. A hydraulic patient lift of this type is mounted overhead and can be operated using a control panel located on a wall or at the foot of the bed. When needed, the lift can be activated and a support sling lowered into position to make movement of the patient possible. Hospitals, nursing homes and many rehabilitation centers built since the 1990’s are equipped with this design for the patient lift.

With each design of the lift, the apparatus includes some type of sling that helps to provide the patient with support. Most of these patient lift slings are constructed using durable material that is capable of supporting excessive amounts of weight. Some of the slings are simple designs that provide support for the lower back and buttocks, but others are constructed to resemble a hammock. Many health care facilities make use of more than one type of patient lift, depending on the condition of the patient and type of transfer or move that needs to be accomplished.


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