doctors patient lift

How to Safely Lift a Patient into a Patient Lift/Hoyer Lift

Lifting and moving patients either in a healthcare institution or at home can be dangerous task, as doing so improperly can injure the patient or damage the lift. The FDA has a comprehensive download that breaks down the ways to lift patients safely in this colorful handout; but we’ve compiled the information from that handout below:

1. Caregiver Safety Tips

Use lifts for these activities to avoid sustaining a back injury:

  • Lifting from floor
  • Bed-chair transfer
  • Lateral transfer
  • Lifting limbs
  • Toileting/bathing
  • Repositioning

Do NOT push, pul or lift while:

  • Off balance or leaning forward
  • Twisting and/or reaching
  • Entrapped in a confined space

Tip: Work as close to the patient as possible to avoid stress of leaning.

2. Know Your Lift

patient lift

Tip:  knowing the lift and how to use it correctly can prevent patient falls from lifts- which may cause injuries, including head trauma, fractures and death.

3. Before Using a Lift, Check the Patient’s Condition

Before using a patient lift, check:

  • Patient’s physical capabilities
    • Check to see if patient can assist with transfer.
    • Check patient’s weight and physical condition; use manufacturer’s guidelines to make sure lift is appropriate.
    • Determine how many caregivers are required to safely lift the patient.
  • Patient’s medical condition
    • Make sure you have correct lift and sling for patient’s condition.
    • Ensure the lift will not make the patient’s condition worse.
  • Patient’s mental status
    • If alert, ensure patient is able to understand and follow instructions.
    • Make sure patient is ready to be placed in a lift.
    • The use of a patient lift should be avoided if the patient is agitated, resistant or combative.

4. Selecting a Patient’s Sling Size

  1. Assess patient’s size, weight and hip measurement.
  2. Choose size of sling based on manufacturer recommendation for patient’s measurements. Choosing correct sling size is critical for safe patient transfer.

SLING TOO LARGE: Patient may slip out.

SLING TOO SMALL: Patient may fall out. Sling may worsen patient’s condition.

IF BETWEEN SIZES: Smaller size may keep patient more secure.

5. Choose Sling and Sling Bar

To increase patient safety, use the correct type and size of sling for your patient. Select sling and sling bar based on manufacturer recommendations for the following criteria:

  • Type of transfer task
  • Patient’s medical condition
  • Patient’s size and weight
  • Pressure sensitivity Sling Bars
  • Use a sling bar that is appropriate for the patient’s size.
  • Choose sling bar/sling combination that will place patient at a safe angle.
  • Only use sling with correct clip or loop attachment type for the sling bar.
  • Need for full back support
  • Need for head support
  • Need for padding
  • Patient’s preferred or medi

Some medical conditions such as stroke, orthopedic conditions, amputations or certain wounds may affect sling choice.

Sling Bars

  • Use a sling bar that is appropriate for the patient’s size.
  • Choose sling bar/sling combination that will place patient at a safe angle.
  • Only use sling with correct clip or loop attachment type for the sling bar.

6. Prepare Environment

Determine number of caregivers needed:

  • Most lifts require two or more caregivers to safely operate lift and handle patient.

Position lift and receiving surface:

  • Move lift base legs near or around patient’s device.
  • Base legs are usually more stable in full open position.
  • Position lift and receiving surface at correct height to transfer patient easily.

Clear path for lift:

  • Ensure there is space for lift to pivot and move freely to receiving area.
  • Ensure lift is able to fit under or around receiving surface and through doorways.

7. Prepare Equipment

  • Ensure battery is charged for transfer.
  • Test lift controls before bringing lift to patient.
  • Make sure the emergency release feature works.
  • Ensure receiving surface is stable and locked.
  • Ensure slings, hooks, chains, straps and supports are available, appropriate and correctly sized.
  • Check lift and sling weight limits.
  • Ensure patient’s weight does not exceed the limits.
  • Examine sling and attachment areas for tears, holes and frayed seams.
  • DO NOT USE sling with any signs of wear.

8. Place Patient in Sling

  1. Place patient in sling.
    • Position center of sling under patient’s spine.
    • Place leg straps flat under patient; do not let material fold.
    • Make sure sling opening is not large enough to let patient slip out or too small to let patient fall out.
  2. Lower sling bar down to patient. Do not let sling bar hit patient.
  3. Attach sling straps to sling bar as directed by manufacturer.
    • Use matching loops from each side to ensure sling is balanced.
    • Choose loops that provide best angle and position for patient.
    • Ensure all clips or loops are secure and will stay attached as patient is lifted.
    • Ensure straps are not twisted.
    • Ensure patient’s head and/or back is supported, if needed.

9. Perform Safety Check

Before lifting the patient, perform safety check:

  1. Examine all hooks and fasteners to ensure they will not unhook during use.
  2. Double-check position and stability of straps and other equipment before lifting patient.
  3. Ensure clips, latches and bars are securely fastened and structurally sound.
  4. For electric lifts, make sure batteries are always charged

10. Lift the Patient

  1. Lift patient two inches off the surface to make sure patient is secure. Check the following:
    • Sling straps are confined by guard on sling bar and will not disengage.
    • Weight is spread evenly between straps.
    • Patient will not slide out of sling or tip backward or forward.
  2. Check patient’s comfort:
    • Make sure sling does not pinch or pull patient’s skin.
    • Ask if patient is comfortable.
    • Look for non-verbal signs of discomfort.
  3. Slowly lift patient, only as high as necessary to complete transfer. Check the following:
    • Patient is still comfortable.
    • Sling will not hurt patient’s skin.

11. Lower the Patient

  1. Use gentle hands-on pressure to guide patient as you slowly move lift toward receiving surface.
  2. Slowly lower patient toward receiving surface. Move patient’s body into correct position on receiving surface before releasing patient’s weight.
  3. Release patient’s weight. Do not let sling bar hit patient.
  4. Detach sling from lift using manufacturer’s instructions.
  5. Carefully remove sling from patient’s body, if necessary.
    • Be careful not to hurt patient’s skin.
    • Ensure that seated patients do not fall forward as sling is removed.

If power fails, use the emergency release to lower patient manually.

12. Patient Lifts at Home

  • Get training from a qualified medical professional before operating a patient lift at home.
  • Keep manufacturer’s instructions close to your lift and always follow them.
  • Have a back-up plan in case your lift stops working properly.
  • When selecting a lift for home use, ensure you have the required number of caregivers needed to operate the lift.
  • Keep children and pets away from lift
  • Make sure you recognize and understand the alarms and error messages. Always follow through when you hear an alarm.
  • Call your supplier or manufacturer if you need help or have a problem with the device.

13. Sling Care

  • Do not share slings between patients unless slings are properly washed and disinfected.
  • Disinfect and scrub areas that contact patient’s skin.
  • Do not bleach. Do not iron. Air dry only. Do not machine dry.
  • Throw away used disposable slings.
  • Follow manufacturer sanitation and wash instructions.
  • Remove metal or plastic reinforcements if required.
  • Sling Care Disinfect slings after every use.
  • Do not use slings that are frayed, ripped or have holes. If sling shows signs of wear, replace it immediately.

14. Patient Lift Care

  • Follow manufacturer instructions to clean and disinfect lift.
  • Always clean lift before and after each patient use.
  • Disinfect all lift surfaces.
  • Wipe off traces of disinfectant.
  • Clean motor casings and ceiling tracks if using an overhead lift.


Get the safety training:

patient lift and transfer Click here to learn more

patient lift and transfer Click here to learn more

patient lifting and transfer Click here to learn more