Congressional Bill Could Extend Thousands of Nursing Careers by Preventing Injuries (12/16/15)

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December 16, 2015


Whitney Phillips, 301-628-5034

Jemarion Jones, 301-628-5198

Congressional Bill Could Extend Thousands of Nursing Careers
by Preventing Injuries

SILVER SPRING, MD– Today, American Nurses Association (ANA) President Pamela F. Cipriano, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, commended Representative John Conyers (D-MI) and Senator Al Franken (D-MN) for the reintroduction of the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act, (H.R. 4266/S. 2408). The bill would establish a national occupational safety standard that would eliminate the manual lifting of patients by registered nurses (RNs) and health care workers through the use of modern technology and safety controls. Additionally, health care employers would be required to implement a comprehensive safe patient handling and mobility program and educate and train their workers in proper use and practices.

"Every day, nurses and other health care workers suffer debilitating and often career-ending musculoskeletal disorders when they manually lift or move patients, and work in pain. Manual lifting is an unacceptable risk and practice when we have the technology and knowledge to significantly reduce injuries. This bill signals that workers are not expendable and injuries are not tolerable as just 'part of the job.' It is a much needed step in the right direction to implementing safer programs that will help to save and extend the careers of thousands of registered nurses." said Cipriano, noting that safe lifting technology and simple devices also prevent injuries to patients and preserve their dignity.

National occupational safety figures show RNs ranked sixth of all occupations in the number of cases of musculoskeletal injuries resulting in days missed from work. This rate can be reduced considerably through widespread adoption of safe patient handling and mobility programs. In an ongoing ANA survey, 42 percent of nurses said they are at a "significant level of risk" to their safety from lifting or repositioning patients, and more than half said they experienced shoulder, back, neck or arm pain at work.

The bill incorporates principles from Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards, a framework developed by an expert ANA panel to establish a comprehensive program for creating a culture of safety in health care settings and professions and eliminating the manual handling of patients. In addition to the cultural and educational components, the standards emphasize architectural design principles; methods for selecting technology; integration of patient care plans; and evaluation of the effectiveness of the program.

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The American Nurses Association (ANA) is the premier organization representing the interests of the nation's 3.4 million registered nurses. ANA advances the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting a safe and ethical work environment, bolstering the health and wellness of nurses, and advocating on health care issues that affect nurses and the public. ANA is at the forefront of improving the quality of health care for all.