According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses experience some of the highest back injury rates of all professions in the U.S. Patient-handling related injuries affect an enormous number of nurses, leaving many of them so incapacitated that they leave the profession.
In a groundbreaking four-part radio series, National Public Radio looked at healthcare worker lifting injuries and the need for Safe Patient Handling and Mobility programs. “Executives who run the nation’s hospitals have known for decades that there’s an epidemic among their staff.... But officials and researchers throughout the healthcare industry say that most hospitals have not taken aggressive action to protect the nursing staff from lifting injuries,” NPR reported. You can find the entire series here.
Effective Safe Patient Handling and Mobility (SPHM) Programs have been proven to significantly reduce healthcare worker injuries and improve patient outcomes. Many hospitals have already implemented successful SPHM programs. New York’s Safe Patient Handling Law requires all New York State hospitals, nursing homes, and mental health facilities to develop, with the input of frontline nurses, comprehensive Safe Patient Handling and Mobility programs by 2017. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to get your facility ready.
Working closely with unions, some facilities have already implemented Safe Patient Handling Programs. The results are impressive:
- Staten Island University Hospital experienced a 65 percent decrease in lost work days two and a half years after implementation.
- Kaleida Health experienced a 77 percent decrease in lost work days two years after implementation.
- NYS Veterans’ Home at Batavia experienced a 93 percent reduction in lost work days three years after implementation.
- Glen Falls Hospital experienced a 56 percent decrease in injuries related to patient handling and a 25 percent decrease in total workers’ compensation costs five years after implementation.
Backed by research
According to nine studies conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, healthcare facilities that instituted comprehensive Safe Patient Handling Programs saw:
- 60 to 95 percent reduction in injuries
- 95 percent reduction in workers’ compensation costs
- 92 percent reduction in medical/indemnity costs
- As much as a 100 percent reduction in lost work days (absence due to injury)
- 98 percent reduction in absenteeism (absence due to unreported injury)
Read more about cost savings and benefits of comprehensive SPHM programs in the OSHA report, Safe Patient Handling Programs: Effectiveness and Cost Savings. A report from the Fiscal Policy Institute looks specifically at the benefits and cost-savings of safe patient handling in New York.
Learn more by attending the NYSNA workshop Safe Patient Handling: Best Practices for Preventing Musculoskeletal Injuries.
Safe Patient Handling and Mobility Resources
- NYS Department of Health Commissioner's Safe Patient Handling Report
- Text of the law: New York State Safe Patient Handling Act
- Summary of the Safe Patient Handling Act, New York State AFL-CIO
- New York State Zero Lift Taskforce
- Videos: Demonstrations of Safe Patient Handling techniques
- Safe Lifting and Movement of Nursing Home Residents