Earlier this summer, APTA served on an expert panel as part of the American Nurses Association's (ANA) broad-based effort to develop national standards to guide hospitals and other health care facilities in their implementation of policies and equipment to safely lift and move patients.
Ken Harwood, PT, PhD, CIE, represented APTA on the panel that included 26 specialists with expertise in nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, ergonomics, architecture, health care systems, and other disciplines to create overarching standards for implementing safe patient handling programs and detailed guidelines for making them work effectively in practice. The Safe Patient Handling National Standards Working Group plans to distribute the standards and guidelines to their professional memberships for comment in October, with publication and release set for March 2013.
The panel is seeking to build a consensus of evidence-based best practices in safe patient handling that will apply to multiple health care professions and settings. The panel's goal is to develop language that can be incorporated nationwide into practices, policies, procedures, and regulations and become the basis for resource toolkits and certifications.
Currently, there are no broadly recognized government or private industry national standards for safe patient handling. Health care facility programs lack consistency, as do regulations in 10 states that have enacted safe patient handling laws. In the meantime, health care professionals continue getting injured, and musculoskeletal injury remains a top concern, says ANA.