National standards for patient handling aim to reduce worker, resident injuries

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Occupational safety agency joins effort to reduce nursing home worker injuries
Occupational safety agency joins effort to reduce nursing home worker injuries

Long-term care facilities should follow new standards from the American Nurses Association to eliminate manual handling of residents and associated worker injuries, the ANA said Tuesday.

The ANA's national standards were developed by an interprofessional group of experts, including nurses and therapists. They were designed to be used across the continuum of care, including in nursing homes, hospices and rehabilitation facilities, according to the ANA. 

Providers should incorporate ergonomic design principles and develop a technology plan around patient handling, according to “Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards.” Each standard is described in terms of caregiver responsibilities, such as reporting hazards and incidents, and employer responsibilities, such as not punishing nurses for reporting incidents.

Virginia Gillespie, CNS, ND, RN-BC, suffered spine trauma while handling residents at a long-term care facility. She was quoted in the ANA's announcement of the standards.

“My injuries from that time still impact my life today,” Gillespie said. “I want to ensure that the current healthcare workers do not suffer the same fate.” 

For the last decade, the ANA has worked to eliminate manual handling of patients. However, nurses are still suffering some of the highest rates of musculoskeletal injuries and illnesses among all occupations, according to 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

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