July 2015  |  Steven Smith, Wy’East Medical

Tests confirm that repeated laundering of reusable friction-reducing devices reduces their effectiveness.

The everyday tasks of repositioning patients in bed and performing lateral transfers onto other surfaces are notorious for causing caregiver injuries. Moreover, lifting and moving a patient safely often requires interrupting the normal workflows of multiple caregivers.

To promote Safe Patient Handling and reduce staff interruptions, Wy’East Medical offers simple friction-reducing devices (FRDs) made of slippery fabric, in both recyclable and reusable forms.

Each type of FRD offers your medical center specific advantages:

  • Recyclable FRDs minimize cross-contamination risks, are relatively inexpensive, and they can be kept stocked and available in patient rooms at all times which encourages caregiver compliance.
  • Reusable FRDs’ purchase costs can be amortized over multiple launderings, and they can help reduce waste.
    When comparing their efficacy and cost-efficiency, however, it’s critical to understand that reusable FRDs lose friction-reducing ability with each laundering—in our tests we measured approximately a 150% increase in resistance to lateral movement after only three launderings.

As shown in the following graph, for heavier patients the reduced efficacy of FRDs following multiple launderings can result in caregiver effort that exceeds the 35 lb. lifting limit established by NIOSH for Safe Patient Handling.

Co-efficient Friction Reducing chart

Increases in force required for moving weight laterally after repeated FRD laundering.

To learn more about these tests and results, download our white paper Reduced Effectiveness of Reusable FRDs with Laundering.

Finally, consider that laundering of reusable FRDs imposes the following operational tasks on health care facilities:

  • Keeping track of the number of times each FRD has been laundered
  • Making sure laundered FRDs are always immediately available to caregivers
  • Following manufacturers’ laundering instructions to assure that FRDs deliver their longest-possible working life

In summary, FRDs are invaluable tools for Safe Patient Handling, and both types of FRDs have their advantages, but make sure to allow for the laundering aspects of reusable FRDs in your selection process.

Click here to learn more about Wy’East Medical’s friction-reducing devices: