Fill out your new career PROfile on and let employers come to you • SIGN UP

ANA releases national standards for patient handling


The American Nurses Association has unveiled national standards for safe patient handling and mobility, seeking 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,” according to a news release.

An interprofessional group that included nurses, occupational and physical therapists, safety and ergonomics experts, risk management specialists and others developed the “Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards.”

The standards apply to hospitals, long-term care, rehabilitation, hospice and other healthcare settings across the care continuum. 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,” according to the news release.

Eight principles, which are based on evidence of effectiveness in improving patient outcomes and reducing workers’ musculoskeletal disorders, include:

• Establishing a culture of safety;

• Creating a sustainable program;

• Incorporating ergonomic design principles;

• Developing a technology plan;

• Educating and training healthcare workers;

• Assessing patients to plan care for their individual needs;

• Setting reasonable accommodations for employees’ return to work following injuries;

• Implementing a comprehensive evaluation system.

At stake

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2011, RNs ranked fifth in number of injuries and illnesses related to musculoskeletal disorders that involved missed work days, behind such jobs as truck drivers and laborers. Nursing assistants topped the list.

In the ANA’s most recent Health and Safety Survey, 62% of more than 4,600 nurses who responded indicated that suffering a disabling musculoskeletal injury was one of their top three safety concerns. More than half had experienced musculoskeletal pain that was caused or made worse by their job in a 12-month period, and of those, 80% worked frequently despite experiencing pain. More than 1 in 10 nurses were injured three or more times on the job within a 12-month period.

The ANA launched an initiative a decade ago to eliminate manual patient handling. No broadly recognized government or private sector standards for safe patient handling and mobility exist, and regulations adopted in several states with safe patient handling laws are inconsistent, according to the news release.

“In what other profession would a worker say, ‘That’s just a little 100-pound pile of boxes, I’ll boost it up or move it.’? Safe patient handling and mobility requires a culture of safety as the standard way of doing business,” ANA President Karen A. Daley, RN, PhD, FAAN, said in the news release.

“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.”

“Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards” is available for purchase at

Read a sample of the new standards:

Read questions and answers about the new standards:


About Author

Send comments to or post comments below.

Leave A Reply