Pearls for practice — All-person safety: Patient lift, movement and transfer

This story was published in the Winter 2021 issue of The Washington Nurse magazine.

Rates of muscu­loskeletal injuries in health care occupa­tions are among the highest of U.S. indus­tries, with hospital workers experi­encing injury rates two or three times the national average. The single-greatest risk factor for overex­er­tion injuries is the manual lifting, moving and reposi­tioning of patients, clients and residents. Washington state law requires acute care hospi­tals to have a safe patient handling program.

Refuse to lift (RCW 70.41.390) #

An impor­tant provi­sion of the acute care hospital law is the worker’s right to refuse to lift.
A hospital employee may refuse to perform or be involved in patient handling or movement that he/​she believes in good faith will expose a patient or the worker to an unaccept­able risk of injury.