The American Nurses Association stated its support for the introduction of federal legislation to protect RNs and other healthcare workers from costly, potentially career-ending injuries and musculoskeletal disorders caused by manual patient handling, such as lifting, transferring and re-positioning.
The Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2013 (H.R. 2480) would improve patient safety and quality of care, according to the ANA. Crafted with input from the ANA, the bill is sponsored by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., whom the ANA described as a longtime champion of safe patient handling and mobility issues.
“Even though there have been great advances in safe patient handling and mobility technology, its use and availability continue to be spotty, and policies have been inconsistent as well,” ANA President Karen A. Daley, RN, PhD, FAAN, said in a news release. “Federal legislation will increase protections for patients and ensure safe working conditions and overall health and wellness for nurses. Healthcare worker and patient safety go hand-in-hand.”
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2011 showed that RNs ranked fifth among all occupations for the number of musculoskeletal disorder-related injuries and illnesses resulting in days away from work.
Safe patient handling and mobility programs have been shown to benefit both healthcare workers and patients. According to a 2006 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the implementation of a safe patient handling and mobility program is associated with improved quality of care, resident safety, comfort and satisfaction. Regarding cost, a study by the CDC found that the investment in equipment and training was recouped in less than three years in lower worker compensation claims.
The legislation, revamped from earlier bills, incorporates key content of the newly published “Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards,” a publication for creating, implementing and managing a safe patient handling and mobility program. The publication was developed by the ANA and a multidisciplinary team of national subject matter experts.
Among its provisions, the bill would require the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop and implement a safe patient handling and mobility standard that will eliminate manual lifting of patients by direct-care RNs and healthcare workers.
The bill would require healthcare employers to:
• Develop a safe patient handling and mobility plan, and to obtain input from direct-care RNs and healthcare workers during the process of developing and implementing such a plan;
• Purchase, use and maintain equipment, and train healthcare workers;
• Track and evaluate injuries related to the application of the safe patient handling and mobility standard;
• Make information available to employees and their representatives.
Track the bill: www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/hr2480.