Safe Patient Handling (SPH) Program and Handle All Transfers Safely (HATS)

The Stanford Hospital & Clinics (SHC) Safe Patient Handling (SPH) program, Handle All Transfers Safely (HATS) began in 2009 as part of the organization's continuous efforts to provide a safe and healthy work environment for all staff.

Safe Patient Handling leadership researched best practices and evidence surrounding the prevention of career-ending and life-changing injuries that nurses and other direct providers are at risk of developing in the process of lifting and moving patients. They found that a growing body of evidence indicated that commonly used patient transfer strategies such as lift teams, back belts and body mechanics classes are ineffective in reducing back injuries.

With this knowledge, SHC mandated that institution-wide "no-lift" policies be implemented. The Safe Patient Handling program introduced mechanical lifting equipment to support employees and patients. The SPH program trained 100% of the staff and deployed equipment to more than 20 inpatient units, operating rooms, and procedural areas by the end of 2009.

Ongoing support in the form of Transfer Specialists and Unit Champions help to sustain the movement and create the culture change needed to decrease employee injuries and improve the safety of patient transfers.

The name HATS (Handle All Transfers Safely) was part of a contest open to all employees to name the Safe Patient Handling program and be awarded for their creativity and program support.

In January 2012, the passage of California's AB 1136 mandated that hospitals facilitate SPH policies and practices. This bill has supported the work of the SPH program and emphasizes the importance of safe patient handling techniques for employee and patient safety.

The "HATS" Team was awarded the 2010 Malinda Mitchell Award for Quality and Service.

Unit Champions, content below are critical in successfully integrating and sustaining a SPH culture at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. For information on becoming a SPH Champion or to learn more about the SPH Program, please email

SPH unit champions

Safe Patient Handling (SPH) practices are sustained by a SPH Committee comprised of Unit Champions and staff members from every patient care area. Unit Champions attend Quarterly Champion Meetings where they receive special training and help formulate solutions to promote a SPH culture at Stanford Hospital & Clinics. Unit Champions have also been recruited from the Transport Department to reach out to all staff members that are involved in patient movement.

Ongoing education:

Throughout the year, education focused upon SPH innovative best practices and strategies are provided to staff. Opportunities for certification are offered by The Association for Safe Patient Handling Professionals (ASPHP). To learn more about certification, please visit ASPHP's website.

Safe Patient Handling Education opportunities include:

  • National Conferences – East and West Coast Safe Patient Handling
  • Full-day regional conference with SPH experts offered by The Association of Safe Patient Handling Professionals (ASPHP)
  • On-site webinars offered by (ASPHP)
  • Stanford Safe Patient Handling, Mobility and Skin Care Seminars

Leadership champions:

The SPH program is led by a leadership group with members spanning various departments throughout the hospital. Bi-weekly meetings are held to discuss current initiatives and problem-solve any areas of opportunity that arise.

For information on becoming a SPH Champion or to learn more about the SPH Program, please email