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What are the Different Types of Patient Lifts

By CME Corp Staff | April 2, 2024

In the healthcare setting patient lifts play a critical role in helping assure the safety of both the medical staff and patient as well as contributing to efficient transfers.

Patients come in all sizes and present with a variety of needs requiring the use of patient lifts. For this reason, hospitals and other healthcare facilities equip themselves with different types of patient lifts.

CME Corp. has established relationships with leading patient lift manufacturers and can help you navigate the selection process.

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This article discussing patient lifts will explore:

Why Should Patient Lifts Be Used?

Identifying when it is time to use a patient lift and which patients would benefit from lifts is best left to healthcare professionals. However, there are several reasons WHY patient lifts are used in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Patient and Caregiver Safety

Perhaps the most important reason to use a patient lift is to help assure the safety of both the patient and healthcare staff. The physical strain on healthcare professionals manually lifting or transferring patients can cause injury. Patient lifts reduce this strain and allow the medical staff assisting the patient to focus on the patient without compromising their own safety.

Patient lifts are equipped with safety features such as harnesses and locks to secure the patient during a transfer minimizing the risk of injury to the patient.

Ceiling lift systems in operating rooms allow surgical staff to efficiently and safely move and position patients for and during surgery without risking injury to themselves.

Efficient Transfers

When patients are secured, and healthcare staff have mechanical assistance moving a patient the transfer process can be completed efficiently. In healthcare environments where staff are assisting multiple patients throughout their shift, an efficient transfer workflow is vital, especially in times of staffing shortage.

Compliance with Patient Safety and Care Regulations

Patient lifts may be required medical equipment for hospitals and other healthcare facilities by State and Federal regulations. It is always worth the time investment to consult with local health authorities and regulatory bodies for standards and regulations related to the use of patient lifts. Currently neither the FDA nor the CDC have standards specific to patient lifts, but they do have guidelines and regulations indirectly related to the use of patient lifts.

There are countless scenarios requiring the use of a patient lift and an equally diverse population of patients needing the assistance of lifts. To accommodate the mix of patients and circumstances calling for the use of patient lifts there is a wide selection of patient lifts available to the healthcare equipment market.

Different Types of Patient Lifts

From the simple lift sling to classic Hoyer lifts and powered bariatric lifts, patient lifts are available for a variety of needs within the healthcare environment. Different types of lifts serve different patients and, in some cases, have very specialized uses.

This article will look at several different types of patient lifts in detail.

  • Bath Lifts
  • Ceiling Lifts
  • Electric Patient Lifts
  • Floor Lifts
  • Lift Slings
  • Hoyer Lifts
  • Pool Lifts
  • Sit-to-Stand Lifts
  • Bariatric Lifts

Bath Lifts

Purpose: Bath lifts are designed to safely lower and raise patients or residents into and out of bathtubs. These lifts offer the opportunity for patients or residents in assisted living facilities, rehabilitation centers, and long-term care facilities to bath and maintain a personal hygiene regimen.

Benefits: Bath lifts offer several benefits to both the caregiver and the patient or resident. These benefits include:

  • Reducing the risk of a slip and fall injury to the patient.
  • Reducing the risk of back strain or other injury to caregivers.
  • Offer the opportunity for independent, self-sufficient bathing.
  • Offer a comfortable bathing experience and relaxation with the reclining design.

Ceiling Lifts

Purpose: Ceiling lifts, also known as overhead patient lifts or hoists, help lift patients horizontally or vertically to safely transfer them between locations or to reposition them. For example, from a wheelchair to a bed or during a surgical procedure. Typically, these lifts are mounted on a track in the ceiling of the healthcare facility.

Benefits: Ceiling lifts offer multiple benefits to both caregivers and patients. These benefits include:

  • Reducing the risk of falls or injuries to the patient associated with manual lifting or assistance with floor-based patient lifts.
  • Reducing the risk of strain to the backs of caregivers.
  • Increasing the efficiency, comfort, and dignity of the transfer.
  • Ceiling lifts do not require floor space for use or storage.

Electric Lifts

Purpose: Electrical lifts, also known as powered or electric patient lifts, are another type of lift used to safely transfer or reposition patients. As suggested by the name, electric lifts use electric power to raise and lower a patient during a transfer.

Benefits: Electric lifts are more powerful than manual patient lifts and offer several other benefits to both patients and caregivers. These benefits include:

  • Minimal physical effort for healthcare staff, decreasing chance for a strain injury.
  • The motorized lift system assures controlled and stable transfers.
  • Electric patient lifts are versatile and can be used in many different healthcare facilities.

Floor Lifts

Purpose: Floor lifts, also referred to as hydraulic lifts or floor-based lifts, assist healthcare staff in transferring or repositioning patients. These patient lifts operate from floor level and use hydraulic power to raise and lower patients.

Benefits: In addition to minimizing the risk of injury to either patient or caregiver, floor lifts offer several other benefits. These benefits include:

  • Cost effective when compared to ceiling lifts or electric lifts.
  • Simpler mechanical components make maintenance or repair easier.

Lift Sling

Purpose: Lift slings are the component of patient lifts that cradle and support a patient during a transfer. Typically, slings are made of nylon or polyester fabric for durability, strength, and comfort against the skin.

Benefits: Lift slings also help to assure that neither patient nor caregiver are injured during a transfer. Additionally, lift slings offer the following benefits:

  • Slings have multiple attachment points that connect the lifting hooks/straps to the lift, so the weight of the patient is being evenly distributed and the connection to the lift is secure.
  • Lift slings are available in different sizes to accommodate a range of body shapes and sizes.
  • These slings are rated for different weights to ensure safe transfers for all patients.
  • Lift Slings are available in different designs to accommodate different reasons for a transfer. The most common designs are:
    • full body slings for people with limited upper body control
    • toilet slings with an opening at the bottom for toileting
    • standing slings for a weight-bearing transfer

Hoyer Lift

Purpose: Named after the company who pioneered patient lifts, the Hoyer lift assists caregivers lifting and transferring patients. Hoyer lifts may be manual with a hydraulic assist or powered.

Benefits: As the first patient lift, it is no surprise that Hoyer lifts offer a long list of benefits. These benefits include:

  • Safe and controlled transfer of patients from one surface to another.
  • Reduced physical strain on caregivers.
  • Opportunity for patients to participate in more daily activities.
  • Hoyer lifts are versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes when equipped with different slings and accessories.
  • Caregiver transfer efficiency is improved with lift assistance from Hoyer Lifts.
  • Comfortable transfer process for the patient.

Pool Lift

Purpose: Pool lifts are used by healthcare facilities offering aquatic therapy, exercise, or recreation. These lifts give people with mobility challenges the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of pools by safely helping them enter and exit the water.

Benefits: By definition, a lift offers the benefit of safety to both caregivers and patients during the process of transferring from furniture to another location. Pool lifts are no different.

Access to an aquatic setting offers patients with mobility challenges the opportunity to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of movement in water.

Anyone with physical or mobility difficulties can benefit from the assistance offered by pool lifts and properly trained healthcare staff.

Sit-to-Stand Lifts

Purpose: Sit-to-Stand lifts, also referred to as standing lifts, stand-assist lifts or patient transfer lifts are used to help patients move from sitting to standing. These lifts may be manual or powered by hydraulics or electricity and are commonly used in long-term care facilities and rehabilitation facilities.

Benefits: For people who just need a bit of assistance steadying themselves when moving from a seated to a standing position, sit-to-stand lifts are ideal. They offer the benefit of:

  • Extra support for people with weakness in the legs
  • Minimizes the potential for injury related to falls.
  • Reduces the risk of strain injury to caregivers.

Weakness in the legs can be caused by a wide range of medical conditions or disabilities. Sit-to-stand lifts are appropriate for anyone, of any age, who needs a little extra help rising from a seated position to standing.

Bariatric Lifts

Purpose: Bariatric lifts are designed for the specific purpose of helping caregivers and healthcare professionals safely move patients suffering from clinical obesity. These lifts are distinguished from other patient lifts by more robust construction and reinforced components.

Benefits: The features of a bariatric lift allow the lift to offer the same safety, dignity, and versatility benefits associated with other patient lifts. These features include:

  • Higher weight capacity
  • Sturdier construction
  • Wider base for additional support
  • Reinforced lifting mechanism, sling, and straps
  • More powerful lifting mechanism

Regardless of the types of patient lifts used by hospitals and other healthcare facilities, it is important to remember that the benefits of a patient lift can only be realized when the lift is used properly. Staff should receive proper training in their use. Patient lifts themselves should be chosen and used in accordance with the specific needs of the people being assisted.

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How to Choose the Right Patient Lift

Choosing the right type of patient lift for a hospital or other medical facility is important. A carefully chosen patient lift can be the solution to a variety of needs within a healthcare facility and help a broad range of patients. Here are several factors to consider before purchasing a patient lift:

Mobility and Needs of the Patients Served

Determining the level of assistance most patients will require can help determine whether ceiling mounted, floor, or standing lifts will be the most appropriate.

Weight Capacity of the Patient Lift

Most patient lifts can accommodate 350-750 pounds but if bariatric patients are commonly served bariatric lifts may be the best choice.

Types of Transfer

Select a lift that can offer assistance for a variety of transfers. Setting up an inventory of different types of slings for a patient lift can broaden the number of ways a lift can be used.

Caregiver Considerations

Consider the physical capabilities of the healthcare staff and the potential number of lift transfers required during a shift to determine if powered or hydraulic lifts are more suitable than a manual patient lift.

Space and Accessibility

The healthcare environment where the patient lift will be used is a big consideration. Consider the height needed to lift and transfer a patient and maneuverability around the patient lift.

Comfort and Safety

Consider features for patient comfort such as padded slings, adjustable straps, and safety locks on the fitting mechanism as well as emergency stop buttons.

Compliance with Regulations

Be sure to ensure that the patient lift under consideration complies with ADA standards as well as any applicable state or federal regulations.

Availability of Training

Training caregivers to properly use patient lifts will ensure that the safety benefits of patient lifts are realized.

Budget Considerations

Identify the available budget authorized by the healthcare facility.

Before finalizing a decision to purchase patient lifts, it is wise to consult with the healthcare professionals who carryout transfers using lifts, including occupational or physical therapists who may also use the lifts. These professionals can offer insights into the best types of patient lifts.


CME Corp branded logoIn addition to helping to source the best patient lift for your needs and budget, CME Corp. is the only medical equipment distributor to offer logistics, direct-to-site, and biomedical services.

Our Logistics and Direct-To-Site service teams can receive, inspect, assemble (as needed), and deliver your patient lifts when it is convenient for you.

Our Biomedical Equipment Technicians can work with your facility to establish equipment maintenance and repair plans focused on ensuring the reliability of your patient lifts and compliance with applicable regulations.

Click CHAT to begin a conversation about your patient lift needs with one of our medical equipment experts.



FAQs About Types of Patient Lifts

What are the two main categories of patient lifting equipment?

Patient lifts may be divided into two broad categories, powered or unpowered. However, there are many types of patient lifts within these broad categories.

What is the average lifespan of patient lifts?

The lifespan or service life of a patient lift will vary depending on the environment where it is used and how often it is used. Regular preventative maintenance and proper care can significantly extend the service life of patient lifts.

How should patient lifts be maintained?

Proper maintenance of patient lifts includes:

  • Adherence to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Regular inspections of Slings and Straps.
  • Lubrication of moving parts
  • Scheduled Annual Maintenance


About CME: CME Corp is the nation’s premier source for healthcare equipmentturnkey logistics, and biomedical services, representing 2 million+ products from more than 2,000 manufacturers. With two corporate offices and 35+ service centers, our mission is to help healthcare facilities nationwide reduce the cost of the equipment they purchase, make their equipment specification, delivery, installation, and maintenance processes more efficient, and help them seamlessly launch, renovate and expand on schedule.

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