Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards

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I have worked in the nursing profession in one form or the other for the last 35 years. I now suffer from chronic hip and back pain which reduces me to tears sometimes. (BSN, RN, Iowa)

I injured my lower back lifting a patient. I was assisting a nursing assistant and immediately felt something was wrong. I was told I suffered from a sacroiliac joint dysfunction.This injury has haunted me throughout my entire nursing career. I was 22 when it occurred and at 33 I have the back of a 70- year-old. (Home Health/Hospice BSN, RN, Pennsylvania)
I had a very large patient. She stated that she could get up from the wheelchair to the bed without assistance. She grabbed my right arm and pulled on it for leverage. I felt immediate pain across my shoulder blade and upper back. I have had two different surgeries on my c-spine. I left the Emergency Department because the manager stated that I was expected to be able to lift a 250-pound man without assistance. (Nurse educator, Texas)


These stories of debilitating occupational injuries come from nurses in response to ANA’s longtime initiative to eliminate manual patient handling. In 2012, ANA took a major step toward this goal by convening experts from numerous disciplines to develop principles and guidelines as a foundation for establishing comprehensive safe patient handling and mobility (SPHM) programs.

The result is ANA's Safe Patient Handling and Mobility: Interprofessional National Standards, a publication intended to guide the development of practices, policies, regulations, and legislation aimed at protecting the health and safety of health care workers and health care recipients.

Read a sample of the SPHM book, including a summary; the table of contents; a description of the organization and intent of the Standards; and the guidelines for establishing the standard of a culture of safety for employers and health care workers.

Endorse the SPHM Standards.

No health care worker should face the constant risk of instantaneous or cumulative musculoskeletal injury from lifting, moving, and re-positioning health care recipients, when assistive technology that has been proven effective is available. Likewise, health care recipients should no longer be exposed to an injury risk – or an affront to their dignity – from manual patient handling. The Standards set the path to a stronger culture of safety and higher quality of care.


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