Give these nurses a hand, really
Jacqueline Vance, RN
These standards were designed “to infuse a stronger culture of safety in healthcare work environments and provide a universal foundation for policies, practices, regulations and legislation to protect patients and healthcare workers from injury.”
The ANA publication “Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards” was developed by an inter-professional group of subject matter experts that included nurses, occupational and physical therapists, safety and ergonomics experts, risk management specialists, and others. The standards, which were released June 25, apply to multiple health care settings across the care continuum including the long-term care setting.
They provide a framework for establishing a comprehensive program to eliminate the manual handling of patients, tasks that commonly lead to injury for healthcare workers and patients.
I applaud this effort, for sure. But I have to ask, what took so long? (Yet, I have to clarify that ANA launched an initiative a decade ago to eliminate manual patient handling. It's just that no government or private sector also has adopted standards for safe patient handling.)
I myself have had more back surgeries, nerve blocks and rhizotomies than I want to count. This all stems from employer expectations that I should manually transfer obese patient by myself because I had been trained in body mechanics of physical lifting.
Really? Take a 5-foot-3-inch, 115-pound woman and have her transfer a 300+ pound unstable patient who is in pain and expect it to go well?!
As I blogged some time ago, body mechanics of physical lifting were tested on inanimate objects, never on human beings who come with countless movements and uncertainties. And we have known this for decades. Oh, and get this tidbit: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2011, RNs experienced the fifth-most injuries and illnesses related to musculoskeletal disorders, only behind jobs such as truck drivers and laborers.
To no surprise, nursing assistants topped the list.
What we have expected from our healthcare workers has just been unacceptable. As a legal nurse consultant, you can just imagine the number of cases I see that involve patients who were injured during manual transfers.
So why has there been this resistance to purchasing mobility systems? They are certainly affordable, especially when you consider what you pay out the back end when you don't purchase a good one!
I love what I read in the standards: “Safe patient handling and mobility requires a culture of safety as the standard way of doing business. This is not optional, especially when our patient population is getting heavier. It is not acceptable to continue unsafe practices that cause worker and patient injuries and diminished quality of care.”
ANA, these standards may have been a bit overdue, but right now I am giving you (albeit painfully today) a standing ovation.
Now, if you can only find a way or group to enforce the standards!
Just keeping it real,
The Real Nurse Jackie is written by Jacqueline Vance, RNC, CDONA/LTC, a 2012 APEX Award of Excellence winner for Blog Writing. Vance is a real life long-term care nurse who is also the director of clinical affairs for the American Medical Directors Association. A nationally respected nurse educator and past national LTC Nurse Administrator of the Year, she also is an accomplished stand-up comedienne. She has not starred in her own national television series — yet. The opinions supplied here are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of her employer or her professiona