Safe Patient Handling
New Professional Standards
Concerns over the hazards associated with lifting and handling patients continue to mount. A document titled “National Standards for Interprofessionals” released this June addressed this issue. The publication Nursing World also reviewed a sample of important safe patient handling standards.
Many professional organizations contribute to this work and endorse new safe patient handling standards. The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), the American Nursing Association (ANA), and the Veterans Administration (VA) are among major organizations who support these new standards.
Some key reasons for the development of national safe patient handling standards include:
- Work related musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) among nurses lead the way. Back and shoulder injuries are the most costly occupational health problem in the U.S. (Nelson et al., 2009).
- Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants ranked first in the list of occupations who have the highest incident rate for MSDs. In 2007, the incidence rate was 252 cases per 10,000 workers. This is 7 times the national average for all occupations.
- Health care workers are at higher risk for back injuries due to repetitive lifting. Many patients need frequent help from a caregiver. many of whom lack adequate lifting or transfer devices at their place of employment.
- Patients are heavier. Obesity rates continue to rise in most U.S. States.
- Age is one of the most likely causes of MSD. The average age of a registered nurse is approximately 47 years old. At this age, the nurse’s resiliency to tissue injury is far less than that of a younger nurse.
- Many clinicians are not aware that MSDs are the result of cumulative lifting events. They hold onto the belief that using “proper body mechanics” protect against lifting injuries.
Safe Patient Handling Standards Summary
I have provided a brief review of “Safe Patient Handling Standards for Interprofessionals”. Yet non-professional caregivers and spouses are also subject to the same hazards associated with manual lifting.
Friends and family caregivers often don’t have lifting devices available to them in the event their loved has a non-traumatic fall. Instead, they rely on manual lifting techniques which also puts them at risk of injury.
Hence, the ResQUp was purposely designed to be:
- Effectiveness, affordability, and portability
- Floor recovery following non-traumatic falls in clinical, adult care, and in-home settings.
- Mobility training for people who want to practice getting down to the floor and back into a chair in case they fall.
- Strengthening and conditioning for upper and lower body extremities as a complement to fall prevention therapy.
- Usefulness in daily living activities like playing with a grandchild, performing floor exercises, and retrieving items from under a kitchen sink, etc.
Musculoskeletal injuries continue as a major concern among healthcare professionals. The rates of injuries published by the Bureau of Labor are worth reviewing: The overexertion injury rate for hospital workers are twice the average compared to all industries (76 per 10,000).