Rates of musculoskeletal injuries in health care occupations are among the highest of all U.S. industries, with hospital workers experiencing injury rates twice 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.
WSNA supports statewide policies to implement safe handling practices and provides resources for nurses.
In 2010, Washington state passed Safe Patient Handling legislation that holds hospitals accountable for oversight committees, equipment, training and procedures to ensure safe patient handling.
WSNA published guidelines for safe patient handling and our Safe Patient Handling Compliance Checklist in 2010, yet results of the WSNA 2017 Nurses Survey revealed over half of 2,000 respondents stated they had suffered an injury related to lifting a patient and that safe patient handling policies are not consistently implemented in hospital settings.
Safe patient handling and mobility is critical to quality of care and all person safety. Research shows that comprehensive safe patient handling programs work to reduce injury.
Researchers performed a systematic literature review of published Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPHM) program evaluations. Results showed that safe patient handling and mobilization programs significantly reduce patient care worker injuries and that beneficial effects of these programs persisted and improved over time.
To successfully sustain a Safe Patient Handling and Mobility program, three key elements must be included: a culture of safety including administrative controls, engineering controls including appropriate equipment, and behavioral controls such as education and unit peer coaches.
American Nurses Association. Handle with Care is ANA’s safe patient handling and mobility program.
American Nurse Today. (2014). Safe Patient Handling and Mobility. This special report provides a helpful resource to caregivers as they continue to practice safe patient handling and mobility (SPHM) — or to embark on their SPHM journey if they’re not already on it. National experts share their perspectives and best practices to align people, processes, and technology to set the course for action.
DeCastro, B. (April 2019). Guidelines for a Safe Practice Environment: Safe Patient Handling to reduce injuries and improve patient care. Guidance that supports a culture of safety for nurses and their patients by promoting safe patient handling concepts, injury prevention, and the role of the nurse to recognize characteristics of the work environment and job tasks that put the nurse and patient at risk.
Facility Guidelines Institute. (2019). Patient Handling and Mobility Assessments. This white paper provides information about the relationship of the physical environment and safe patient handling techniques.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (n.d.). Safe Patient Handling. OSHA statistics and resources for safe patient handling.
WSNA. (April 2019). Palm card for safe lift decisions. Safe lift guidance and strategies to protect workers and patients.
WSNA. (April 2019). Keeping nurses healthy: 18 questions. A list of safety questions to learn more about your work environment.
WSNA. (May 2018). Ten health and safety questions for nurses. This palm card contains questions for nurses, including whether your facility has a “no manual lift” policy.