New California Bill Aims To Reduce Nurse Injury Risk » Nursing Jobs Blog – Nurses Insights at Nursing Jobs.org

New California Bill Aims To Reduce Nurse Injury Risk

August 22nd, 2011  |  The Blog

The fine art of patient-lifting doesn’t usually get a lot of attention in the media. Nor does the fact that this very delicate operation often results in injuries to the people doing the lifting. A new bill in California aims to redress that situation. The current state of affairs is to put it mildly creating difficulties for the health care sector:

According to the LA Times:

More than 9,700 nurses filed workers’ compensation claims for injuries last year in California, including 2,182 who said they hurt their backs, according to the state Industrial Relations agency.

“Nurses are critical to our healthcare system, and 12% of them are forced to leave the profession each year because of the disabling injuries caused by lifting patients,” he (Assemblyman Sandre Swanson D-Oakland) said, citing a report in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.

The other side of the equation is the cost of patient lifting equipment, also no trivial issue in the habitually cash-strapped health care environment. According to a spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, the cost of a two person patient-lifting team for a 24/7/365 service is about $375,000 per year.

The middle ground here is functionality. The need is for appropriate levels of risk management for both patients and nurses and allocating resources to cover the issue while making the financial outlay situation viable for hospitals.

There are possible solutions that don’t have to be expensive. Given that the need for patient lifting operations is case specific, this may not have to be a problem at all:

  • For new patients, medical assessment of the needs for patient movement can include a “check box” approach to the need for lifting equipment. (It’d also be useful to make sure some risk management is in operation at this first contact stage, because the risk of injury to patients is no minor issue, either. Patients can be killed by inappropriate movement operations.)
  • For existing patients, lifting operations could be scheduled in accordance with need. This would reduce the requirement for a 24/7/365 crew, cutting outlays.
  • Patient lifting services could be contracted locally among hospitals on a “retainer” basis, whereby the local hospitals pay for services to be available at a lower rate, then simply cover costs as required when lifting services are used.

This really doesn’t have to be a problem. The patient lifting services are obviously necessary, but there shouldn’t have to be any particularly difficult decisions in terms of budgets, either, just an “all bases covered” approach.

Paul Wallis
About Paul Wallis

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