The American Nurses Association (ANA) assembled a national working group comprised of professional organizations and other stakeholders to create safe patient handling standards. The resulting 40-page “Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards” were published in June 2013.
The standards provide a guideline for examining patient handling and mobility practices in healthcare settings and set the bar for what healthcare workers should expect in terms of safety measures. The ANA notes that nurses lift the equivalent of about 1.8 tons in an eight-hour shift, and have a high rate of musculoskeletal injuries and missed workdays. The ANA estimates that nursing assistants, who are at the frontline of lifting and moving patients (who are increasingly larger and more debilitated than in the past), have the highest rate of workplace-related musculoskeletal injuries, even exceeding occupations such as mining and construction.
An interprofessional work group established the 8 evidence-based standards, which are intended for use in any health care setting, including home care, by any professional or paraprofessional delivering the care. The first standard calls for establishing a culture of safety, which includes ensuring safe levels of staffing, creating a non-punitive environment, and developing a system for communication and collaboration. The other standards include: implementing and sustaining a safe patient handling and mobility program; incorporating ergonomic design principles to provide a safe environment of care; selecting, installing and maintaining safe patient handling technology; establishing a system for education, training and maintaining competence; integrating patient-centered assessment, care planning and technology; including safe patient handling in reasonable accommodations and post-injury return to work policies; and establishing a comprehensive evaluation system. The book also includes a glossary and appendices with tools and resources.