August 2, 2023 | Terry Smith

How do you reduce the risk of manual handling injury in endoscopy?

What causes manual handling injury in endoscopy?

A number of factors can increase the risk of manual handling injury occurring during endoscopy procedures, which we will cover below. 

Moving and handling patients

One of the major causes of manual handling injuries during endoscopy procedures is the moving and handling of the patient.

During endoscopy procedures, patients may need to be rolled on their side, moved into different positions, or repositioned to allow proper access and manipulation of the endoscope. Accessing different areas of the GI tract also requires positioning changes.

Whilst some patients may be able to do some of the positioning themselves, staff in endoscopy units often have to assist or carry out the repositioning, leading to a high risk of manual handling injury. 

Also, if the patient has to be laterally transferred from a stretcher onto a separate procedure table or chair, this movement can put strain on staff and increase the likelihood of injury occurring. 

Operating endoscopy equipment

Endoscopy procedures often require repetitive motions such as twisting, bending, reaching, and manoeuvring equipment, putting strain on muscles, tendons, and joints over the course of a procedure. 

The procedures can also be quite lengthy, and if endoscopists are having to hold awkward positions for prolonged periods during procedures, this can further increase the risk of injury. Scopes, monitors, and accessories can also be heavy and cumbersome to handle, contributing to fatigue and strain.

Moving and transporting patient stretchers

Another common cause of endoscopy staff experiencing back pain and manual handling injury is the moving and pushing of patient stretchers and trolleys. Typically heavy pieces of equipment, patient stretchers often have to be moved during procedures to assist with imaging, as well as having to be moved in and out of the endoscopy room. 


How can the risk of injury be reduced?

There are a number of interventions that can reduce the risk of injury during endoscopy procedures. 

Minimising the amount of patient handling required

Implementing equipment such as patient trolleys specifically designed for endoscopy procedures, such as the ImageFlow, can help reduce the amount of patient handling required during procedures.

Using one stretcher for the transportation of the patient and for the actual procedure itself cuts out the need for any unnecessary lateral transfers. The ImageFlow also has a sliding mattress platform, which reduces the need to move the whole patient stretcher during a procedure. 

Always carrying out risk assessments

One of the best ways to identify the risks and prevent injuries and problems is to thoroughly risk-assess the manual handling task that needs to be carried out, to reduce the risk of injury to all persons involved to the lowest level reasonably practicable.

Risk assessments should also be regularly reviewed and updated when necessary.

In a separate article, we share 5 of the best free risk assessment tools for you to use when required – you can read the article here.

Using safe and approved manual handling techniques

You should always use safe and approved techniques when carrying out any patient handling or manual handling tasks.  Failure to do so could result in musculoskeletal injury occurring that could otherwise be prevented. 

Keep these basic manual handling techniques in mind:

  • Get as close to the patient or equipment as possible to avoid bending over and putting pressure on your back.
  • Ensure your feet are stable on the ground and your knees are slightly bent.
  • Try to use your leg muscles more than your upper muscles when moving a patient or operating equipment.
  • Always avoid bending using your waist.
  • Align your head and neck to maintain the correct posture.

If you feel you require more training on safe manual handling techniques, your hospital will be able to provide this.

Where possible, avoid manual handling tasks that could cause injury

This might sound basic, but if a manual handling task that is potentially going to cause injury can be avoided, you should always take this option. 

Before doing a risky manual handling task, consider:

  • Can the patient do the activity independently without having to intervene?
  • Can the operation be automated through the use of technology?
  • Can a treatment or procedure be brought to the patient, avoiding the need for a patient transfer?



Related articles

How does the Felgains ImageFlow stretcher improve efficiency in imaging departments?

How to avoid injury when moving and using a C-arm camera for fluoroscopy

What is patient flow? Statistics, challenges, and consequences of poor patient flow in the NHS



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Terry Smith

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