Safety Straps and Proper Patient Positioning

January 23, 2024

patient lying on operating table with head donut positioner and patient safety strapsEnsuring proper patient positioning during surgical procedures helps reduce the risk of complications and improve outcomes for the patient. One important aspect of patient positioning is the use of patient positioners and safety straps. In this article, we'll discuss the importance of safe surgical positioning, along with the use of patient safety straps, in maintaining patients' comfort and safety. 

Safe Surgical Positioning

Proper patient positioning is fundamental in surgery as it provides optimal exposure of the surgical site, facilitates access for the surgical team, and minimizes the risk of complications. Proper positioning also ensures adequate blood flow, helps prevent nerve damage, and improve surgical access.  

Inadequate positioning can lead to a range of issues, including nerve injuries, pressure ulcers, and impaired circulation. Ensuring the patient is correctly positioned not only enhances the surgeon's ability to perform the procedure but also contributes to postoperative recovery. 

There are a variety of positions in which patients are placed, depending on the type of procedure. Common surgical positions include prone position, supine position, lithotomy position, Trendelenburg and reverse Trendelenburg position, Fowler’s position, and lateral position.

Patient Positioners

Patient positioners are specially designed devices that assist in placing patients in secure, comfortable positions during surgery. These positioners serve as a foundation for stability, allowing the surgical team to work with precision and efficiency. Various types of positioners cater to different surgical procedures, infection control protocols, and patient anatomies. These different types of positioners are designed to support different body parts, such as the patient’s head or knees.

Foam Positioners

Foam positioners are commonly used to support and position patients during surgery. These are made from high-density foam and are contoured to match different body parts. The soft yet firm nature of foam positioners ensures patient comfort while providing the necessary support for proper alignment. 

Our award-winning foam InvisiCoat® Positioners with unique curved edges reduce artifacts and costly retakes during imaging procedures and are seamless, fluid-proof, and antimicrobial. For greater infection control in the Operating Room, our antimicrobial Protecta-Coat™ Positioners are also fluid-proof and seamless for easy cleanup and faster room turnover. See our full selection of Reusable and Disposable Foam Positioners to support any protocol.

Gel Positioners

Gel positioners offer an alternative to foam and are particularly useful in reducing pressure points. The gel conforms to the patient's body shape, distributing pressure evenly and minimizing the risk of pressure-related injuries. Gel positioners are often used in procedures requiring prolonged positioning. 

Our AliBlue™ Gel Positioners offer the same pressure-relieving properties as our industry standard AliGel™ Positioners at a more economical price point. Both are made of 100% gel. For a lighter alternative, AliLite™ Positioners are up to 50% lighter than comparable gel-only positioners, allowing for easier handling and fewer staff injuries.

Patient Safety Straps

Patient safety straps are essential components of the surgical setup. These straps are designed to keep the patient securely in place, preventing unintended movements during the procedure. The use of safety straps is crucial in avoiding patient slippage or displacement, which can compromise the surgical field and lead to potential complications.  

Safety straps also make it more comfortable for patients when they are required to lie on the operating table for an extended period. However, it is essential to understand how to use safety straps appropriately to provide maximum protection and comfort.

Types of Safety Straps

There are different types of safety straps, each catering to specific surgical requirements. Body straps, leg straps, and arm straps are among the commonly used varieties. These straps are adjustable to accommodate different body sizes and are typically made from durable materials to withstand the demands of surgery.  

Our best-selling AliStrap® is a non-adhesive, self-adhering, hook-and-loop strap that’s a trusted choice to secure and position patients. Its soft edges make it safe enough to use against patients’ skin, yet strong and durable enough to hold heavy equipment in place. This innovative strap is a hygienic alternative to tape because it doesn’t leave behind sticky, bacteria-trapping residue.

Importance of Proper Strapping 

Proper strapping not only ensures the patient's stability but also plays a significant role in preventing injuries. Securely strapped patients are less likely to experience accidental falls or shifts during surgery, reducing the risk of complications such as nerve injuries or damage to surrounding tissues. The use of safety straps aligns with the principles of patient-centered care, prioritizing the well-being and safety of the individual undergoing surgery.

Using Positioners and Safety Straps Together

While both patient positioners and safety straps individually contribute to surgical safety, their combined use yields synergistic benefits. When employed together, these tools create a harmonious environment that enhances the precision of surgical procedures and help ensure patient safety. 

  • Enhanced Stability: The combination of patient positioners and safety straps provides enhanced stability by minimizing movement during surgery. This stability is crucial in procedures where precision is paramount, such as neurosurgery or orthopedic interventions. The combined use of these tools ensures that the patient remains in the desired position, allowing the surgical team to focus on the task at hand without concerns about unintended shifts. 
  • Reduced Pressure Points: The use of positioners and safety straps collaboratively contributes to reducing pressure points on the patient's body. Properly positioned and securely strapped patients experience more even distribution of pressure, lowering the risk of pressure ulcers and related complications. This is particularly relevant in lengthy surgical procedures where extended immobility can pose challenges to patient well-being. 
  • Optimal Exposure and Accessibility: Patient positioners assist in achieving optimal exposure of the surgical site and help ensure that this exposure is maintained throughout the procedure. The combination allows surgeons to work with confidence, knowing that the patient's position is secure.

Best Practices and Considerations 

Every patient is unique, and considerations such as body size, medical history, and the nature of the surgical procedure should guide the choice of positioners and safety straps. For example, those with sensitive or fragile skin—such as pediatric or elderly patients—may require a softer, gentler safety strap like the AliStrap Soft. Bariatric patients, on the other hand, require straps that can accommodate their larger size and weight.  

Continuous monitoring of the patient's position and the effectiveness of safety straps is crucial throughout the surgery. Regular assessments help identify and address any issues promptly, ensuring that the patient remains secure and comfortable. Communication among the surgical team regarding patient positioning is key to a successful outcome. 

Patient positioning and safety straps are critical components of any surgical procedure. By ensuring that patients are properly positioned and secured during surgery, healthcare providers can help prevent complications, reduce the risk of injuries to the patient, and improve surgical outcomes. It's important for surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare providers to understand the role that safety straps play in patient comfort and safety, and to take the necessary steps to ensure that patients are positioned and secured properly during every procedure.  

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