Patient lifts and risk of fall

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Types of patient lifts

In Canada, all patient lifts are Class 1 medical devices. Class 1 devices present the lowest risk to health and safety. Patient lifts (also called hoists) and their accessories are used to transfer patients who use a wheelchair, cannot support their own weight or are bedridden.

There are many types of patient lifts. They're found in a variety of settings and for a wide range of uses. For example, some patient lifts are used to lift individual limbs, for hygiene purposes, or to help someone stand up. Some are mounted on the ceiling and some are mobile devices on wheels. Some lifts are powered and some are manually operated.

It's important to read the label for your device and receive training to understand the components of your lift and how to use them. A patient lift usually has the following basic components:

A ceiling-mounted lift is designed to lift the body with use of a sling from overhead. For this reason, it will have different components from a floor lift.

How to manage the risk of falls

Using a patient lift improperly can result in falls with severe consequences, including head traumas, fractures and death.

Patient lifts offer many benefits to patients and caregivers. They're used widely in Canada, and the risk of injury is very low. Indeed, there have been few serious adverse events in Canada.

The risk of a fall, or serious injury or death increases when:

To ensure patients in Canada are as safe as possible, particularly in a patient's own homes, Health Canada recommends the following.

Training and labelling

Preparing to operate

During operation


There is added risk in buying a second-hand sling. Follow the recommendations on this page and make sure that all the components meet the manufacturer's standards before using.

For more information on using patient lifts:

Reporting a serious adverse event

It's important to monitor any issues with your patient lift so you can take action before an adverse event happens.

Health Canada encourages you to report adverse events:

Report a medical device problem:

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