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ANA releases draft of patient handling guidelines

Sunday November 4, 2012
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The American Nurses Association has released a draft of its "Safe Patient Handling and Mobility National Standards" for public comment with the goal of establishing a uniform, national foundation for programs to improve safety for patients and healthcare workers.

The standards (www.nursingworld.org/DocumentVault/NursingPractice/Public-Comment/SPHM-Standards-draft.pdf) outline guidelines for eight broad areas considered essential to implementing an effective program to safely lift, move and transfer patients. Among the areas are creating a culture of safety, implementing and sustaining a program, incorporating prevention through design, managing technological resources, educating and training staff and evaluating the program.

The standards apply to multiple healthcare disciplines and settings and to different intensity levels of patient care. Once finalized in mid-2013, the standards are intended to be used to create policies, laws and regulations to protect healthcare workers and patients from injury and encourage best practices in patient handling and mobility. The standards also may serve as the basis for resource toolkits and certifications.

There have been no broadly recognized national standards for safe patient handling, according to the ANA. Healthcare facility programs lack consistency, as do regulations in 10 states that have enacted safe patient handling laws (www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/Policy-Advocacy/State/Legislative-Agenda-Reports/State-SafePatientHandling).

The ANA’s 26-member Safe Patient Handling National Standards Working Group included experts from nursing, occupational and physical therapy, ergonomics, architecture, healthcare systems, risk management and other disciplines to devise standards rooted in evidence-based best practices. "To create a true universal culture of safety that promotes consistent, high-quality care, we want to get input from professionals working in all disciplines and healthcare settings where patient handling and mobility is a major safety concern," Suzy Harrington, RN, DNP, MCHES, director of the ANA’s Center for Health, Safety and Wellness, which convened the panel, said in a news release.

Interested parties may comment on the guidelines through Nov. 30 at www.nursingworld.org/public-comment-safe-patient-handling-standards.

Since the launch of the ANA’s Handle with Care campaign (www.nursingworld.org/MainMenuCategories/WorkplaceSafety/SafePatient) in 2003, the association has advocated for policies and legislation that would result in the elimination of manual patient handling. Using mechanical devices to lift, transfer and reposition patients reduces the risk that patients will be dropped or suffer skin tears and helps preserve their dignity, the ANA has stated.

For more coverage from Nurse.com on legislation related to safe patient handling, visit http://news.nurse.com/article/20121001/CRT02/310010062.


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