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November 1, 2009

Dear WING USA Friends,

WING USA SPH Update November 1, 2009:

Actress Sally Kellerman Endorses Legislation for Safe Patient Handling as CHAPS Hosts Congressional Staff Briefing on Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 (HR 2381/S 1788)

Actress and singer Sally Kellerman, who played the nurse called “Hot Lips Houlihan” in the movie *M*A*S*H*, has given her support to efforts of the Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS) and of Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA (WING USA) for national safe patient handling legislation, for the safe handling of patients and residents across the country.

Sally Kellerman’s statement of support for safe patient handling is given here, with permission. Info about the Congressional Staff Briefing held October 22, 2009, on the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 (HR 2381/S 1788) follows.


“CHAPS” Holds Congressional Briefing on
Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009
(HR 2381 and S 1788) for the
Safe Handling of Patients and Residents in America

The Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (“CHAPS”), led by CHAPS founder Marsha Medlin, RN, returned to Capitol Hill on October 22, 2009, to host a Congressional Staff Briefing on the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009.

The act would “Direct the Secretary of Labor to issue an occupational safety and health standard to reduce injuries to patients, direct-care registered nurses, and all other health care workers by establishing a safe patient handling and injury prevention standard…” (http://thomas.loc.gov).

Where other industries routinely use equipment such as hoists, cranes, and forklifts to lift heavy loads, the healthcare industry is permitted to use the backs of nurses, nurse assistants, and other healthcare workers to lift up to hundreds of pounds at a time, often many times throughout every shift. Nursing staff are required in many areas to lift back-breaking amounts of weight not permitted to be lifted by hand in other industries, leading to RNs having the seventh highest number of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and to nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants having the second highest number and the highest rate of MSDs in the country – more than seven times the national MSD average for all occupations (www.bls.gov).

All techniques of manual patient lifting have been shown to create forces which exceed tolerance limits of spinal structures, so that no method of lifting people by hand can be considered safe, and that proper training and use of patient-lift equipment prevents injuries and saves tremendously on workers’ compensation medical and time loss payments. The on-going epidemic of MSDs among healthcare workers indicates that many of the nearly 6,000 hospitals and 18,000 nursing homes across America have not voluntarily and successfully implemented the safe patient handling policies, programs, and equipment and training proven necessary to prevent injuries caused by lifting and moving patients and residents.

The Nurse and Healthcare Worker Protection Act of 2009 stands alone as industry-specific legislation designed to prevent injuries, and related loss of nursing personnel and financial resources, caused by the manual lifting of dangerous loads not permitted in other industries.

Identical Companion Bills in House and Senate

HR 2381, Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives by Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D, MI-14) on May 13, 2009, with 11 co-sponsors to date:

HR 2381 Sponsor:
Rep. John Conyers (D, MI-14) introduced on May 13, 2009
Co-sponsors, as of November 1, 2009:
Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey (D, CA-6), May 13, 2009, original co-sponsor
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D, NY-4), July 7, 2009
Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D, AZ-7), July 15, 2009
Rep. Phil Hare (D, IL-17), July 15, 2009
Rep. Steve Cohen (D, TN-9), July 20, 2009
Rep. James L. Oberstar (D, MN-8), July 27, 2009
Rep. Joes Sestak (D, PA-7), July 28, 2009
Rep. Peter A. DeFazio (D, OR-4), October 6, 2009
Rep. John W. Olver (D, MA-1), October 20, 2009
Rep. Donald M. Payne (D, NJ-10), October 20, 2009
Rep. John A. Boccieri (D, OH-16), October 26, 2009

S 1788 Sponsor:
Senator Al Franken (D, MN) introduced on October 15, 2009

Momentum for a national safe patient handling standard mounted with introduction of companion bill S 1788 into the U.S. Senate on October 15, 2009, by Senator Al Franken (D, MN) who stated:

“Today I am introducing a bill to help keep our country's invaluable nurses and health care workers safe from debilitating injuries suffered on the job. This legislation will require workplace standards that eliminate the manual lifting of patients – the primary cause of musculoskeletal disorders in the health care profession. And I want to first thank my colleague in the House, Representative Conyers of Michigan's l4th District, for his leadership on this issue and for the impressive work he put into crafting this bill.

“When we think of dangerous working conditions, mines or construction sites might come to mind. But in fact, work performed in hospitals and nursing homes contributes to thousands of cases of musculoskeletal disorders in nurses and health care workers each year. These injuries require time away from work, and unfortunately, many workers suffering from chronic back injury are forced to leave the profession permanently. Nurses and health care workers deserve better – they shouldn't have to sacrifice their safety and their livelihood to help others, especially when many of these injuries could be prevented.”

With the same title and identical wording as HR 2381, S 1788 “Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009,” would mandate “a standard on safe patient handling and injury prevention to prevent musculoskeletal disorders for direct-care registered nurses and all other health care workers that requires the use of engineering controls to lift patients and the elimination of manual lifting of patients through the use of mechanical devices, except where patient care may be compromised” (http://thomas.loc.gov).

To this end, after visiting members of Congress in July 2009 (see WING USA Update “CHAPS to Capitol Hill” dated August 23, 2009, at www.wingusa.org), CHAPS returned to Capitol Hill to host a Congressional Staff Briefing on October 22, 2009. The Briefing was held from 3:00 to 5:30 pm in the Judiciary Overflow Room at 2226 Rayburn House Office Building. The agenda for the event follows.

Agenda of CHAPS Congressional Staff Briefing October 22, 2009

WHY PASS THE NURSE AND HEALTH CARE WORKER
PROTECTION ACT OF 2009 (H.R. 2381/S. 1788)?

AGENDA

INTRODUCTION:
Representative John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI), Sponsor of H.R. 2381 introduced by
Jean Ross, RN, United American Nurses (UAN)

WHY THE LAW IS NEEDED:
Marsha Medlin, RN, Founder of the Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS)

Beth Piknick, RN, past President, Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA)

Cathy Battaglia, RN, injured nurse

Michael Watkins, CNA, injured certified nursing assistant

SAFE PATIENT LIFTING EQUIPMENT MAKES FINANCIAL SENSE:
Elizabeth White, RN

EXPLANATION OF THE BILL:
Jay Witter, United American Nurses (UAN)

EXPLANATION AND DEMONSTRATION OF SAFE PATIENT LIFTING EQUIPMENT:
Marsha Medlin, RN



Photo: Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS) Congressional Staff Briefing on Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, October 22, 2009, Washington, DC. Left to right: Elizabeth White, ErgoNurse; Jean Ross, United American Nurses (UAN, AFL-CIO); Michael Watkins, National Network of Career Nursing Assistants (NNCNA); Jeni Gipson, Director of National Network of Career Nursing Assistants (NNCNA); U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr., sponsor of HR 2381; Delana Webb, RN; Molly Donaldson, Ergolet; Sara Markle-Elder, United American Nurses (UAN, AFL-CIO); Laura McElroy, National Network of Career Nursing Assistants (NNCNA); Marsha Medlin, Ergolet and founder of CHAPS; Donna Zankowski, American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN).


Congressman John Conyers, Jr., sponsor of HR 2381, Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, stated, “This is a meeting that in a more democratic system would not be necessary. The injuries [caused by manually lifting patients and residents] go on every day that we wait. We have to decide collectively that the time has come. If you're waiting for goodwill and bipartisanship, your kids will be here pleading the same things.”



Photo: Speaking at the Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS) Congressional Staff Briefing on Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, October 22, 2009, Washington, DC. Left to right: Michael Watkins, CNA, National Network of Career Nursing Assistants (NNCNA); Marsha Medlin, RN, founder of CHAPS; Elizabeth White, RN, ErgoNurse; Jean Ross, RN, United American Nurses (UAN, AFL-CIO); Beth Piknick, RN, past President Massachusetts Nurses Association; Cathy Battaglia, RN, from Minnesota.


CHAPS founder Marsha Medlin, RN, stated, “CHAPS hosted a Congressional Staff Briefing on October 22nd. It was well attended and included information on the scope of the problem, personal stories from injured health care workers, financial information and actual lift demonstrations.


“Congressman Conyers gave a compelling speech highlighting the sacrifices health care workers make and the priority of protecting them so they can continue caring for patients. The next steps include a possible Senate briefing as well as a hearing.”

A video produced by CHAPS members was also shown during the Briefing, with interviews of healthcare workers documenting the devastating life-altering effects of injuries caused by manually lifting patients and residents.

Photo: Michael Watkins, CNA, National Network of Career Nursing Assistants (NNCNA), who spoke at the CHAPS Congressional Staff Briefing on the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, October 22, 2009.


Material Provided by CHAPS to Members of Congress and Legislative Staff on HR 2381/S 1788

Materials distributed to members of Congress and their legislative staff at the Briefing included:

1. Briefing Agenda.
2. United American Nurses (UAN) “Legislative Issue Brief: Safe Patient Handling Legislation – H.R. 2381/S. 1788.”
3. Text of Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, HR 2381/S 1788.
4. Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA (WING USA) injured nurse stories: “Nurses Lost to Back Injuries from Lifting Patients.”
5. CHAPS factsheet “Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS) Supports H.R. 2381/S. 1788 – The Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009.”
6. Equipment factsheet: “Manual Patient Handling vs. Safe Patient Handling.”
7. List of 25 “Organizations Supporting the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 (H.R.2381/S. 1788).”
8. “Dear Colleague” letter from Rep. John Conyers, Jr., to members of Congress: “Help Protect Nurses and Health Care Workers from Unnecessary Back Injuries.”
9. Senator Al Franken’s press release on introduction of S 1788 into the Senate on Oct 15, 2009: “Franken Introduces Nurse Protection Act: Bill will Prevent Injuries Among Nurses and Health Workers.” 10. United American Nurses (UAN) press release October 15, 2009: “Nation’s RNs Hail Sen. Franken’s Support for Safe Patient Handling Measure: UAN, Minnesota Nurses Point to Benefits for Patients, Nurse Staffing and Cost Savings.”
11. United American Nurses (UAN) press release May 13, 2009: “Common-Sense Patient Handling Bill Protects Patients and Nurses: United American Nurses Pledges Support for Legislation.”
12. Sign-on letter of 12 unions urging members of Congress to co-sponsor HR 2381: “Help Protect Millions of Nurses and Patients – Support Safe Patient Handling Legislation – Cosponsor H.R. 2381.”
13. Actress Sally Kellerman’s endorsement: “Sally Kellerman Supports Legislation for Safe Patient Handling,” reproduced above.

To Receive Materials Provided at the Briefing or for More Info:

For more info on the Congressional Staff Briefing held October 22, 2009, to receive the materials listed above which were provided at the Briefing, or to be added to the CHAPS email list, contact CHAPS founder, Marsha Medlin:

Marsha Medlin, RN
Founder, Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS)
President, Safe Lifting Solutions
Director of Medical Products, Ergolet Americas
717-926-9921
mmedlin@safeliftingsolutions.com
www.safeliftingsolutions.com


Photo: Marsha Medlin, RN, founder of the Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS) conducting a demonstration of patient lifting equipment on a member of the audience at CHAPS Congressional Staff Briefing, October 22, 2009.


Organizations Supporting the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009:

Following is a list of organizations which have expressed support of the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 (HR 2381/S 1788). It is gratifying that such a variety of organizations agree in the cause for the safe handling of patients and residents across the United States.

American Association for Long Term Care Nursing (AALTCN)
American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN)
Alaska Nurses Association (AaNA)
American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE)
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
American Nurses Association (ANA)
California Nurses Association (CNA)/National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC)
Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS)
Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE)
International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF)
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)
Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA)
Minnesota Nurses Association (MNNA)
National Network of Career Nursing Assistants (NNCNA)
National Organization for Women (NOW)
Oregon Nurses Association (ONA)
RNs Working Together, AFL-CIO (RNWT)
Safe Lifting Solutions, Inc.
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
United American Nurses, AFL-CIO (UAN, AFL-CIO)
United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW)
United Steelworkers (USW)
Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA (WING USA)

If your organization would like to be included: The person with authority to make the request for the organization should email me at anne@wingusa.org, giving their name, position, contact info, and request that their organization be added to the list of organizations which support the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009.

Summary of HR 2381 as Introduced May 13, 2009:

“Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 - Requires the Secretary of Labor to propose a standard on safe patient handling and injury prevention to prevent musculoskeletal disorders for direct-care registered nurses and all other health care workers that requires the use of engineering controls to lift patients and the elimination of manual lifting of patients through the use of mechanical devices, except where patient care may be compromised.

“Requires health care employers to: (1) develop and implement a safe patient handling and injury prevention plan; (2) provide their workers with training on safe patient handling and injury prevention; and (3) post a uniform notice that explains the standard and the procedures to report patient handling-related injuries. Requires the Secretary to conduct unscheduled inspections to ensure compliance with safety standards.

“Allows health care workers to: (1) refuse to accept an assignment in a health care facility that violates safety standards or for which such worker has not received required training; and (2) file complaints against employers who violate this Act. Prohibits employers from taking adverse actions against any health care worker who in good faith reports a violation, participates in an investigation or proceeding, or discusses violations.

“Authorizes health care workers who have been discharged, discriminated, or retaliated against in violation of this Act to bring legal action for reinstatement, reimbursement of lost compensation, attorneys' fees, court costs, and other damages.

“Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to establish a grant program for purchasing safe patient handling and injury prevention equipment for health care facilities.”

For Complete Information on HR 2381 and S 1788:

For links to the summary, text, actions, co-sponsors, committees, and other information on the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009:
Go to http://www.house.gov/
Enter “HR 2381” or “S 1788” into the “Search Bill Summary & Status” box
Select “Bill Number”
Click “Search”

With best wishes to all, on our journey to safe lifting and moving of dependent persons across all healthcare settings in America…Anne
Anne Hudson, RN, BSN

November 1, 2009

Founder, Work Injured Nurses' Group USA (WING USA)

Coos Bay, Oregon
Email: anne@wingusa.org
Website:
www.wingusa.org


August 23, 2009

Dear WING USA Friends,

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), healthcare workers have the highest rate of MSDs in the country, more than seven times the national MSD average for all occupations!

It is reported that 12% of nurses are lost to back injuries.

Losing valuable nurses, nurse assistants, and other healthcare workers to preventable disabling injuries should be recognized as a public health crisis!

Skip straight to the bottom below, for info on locating and calling your U.S. Representative to co-sponsor HR 2381, Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, to halt the epidemic of injuries to healthcare workers, and to patients and residents, caused by manual patient lifting.

Best to all…Anne


WING USA SPH Update August 23, 2009:

“CHAPS” to Capitol Hill for Passage of HR 2381
Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009

On July 23, 2009, ten representatives of the Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (“CHAPS”) met with a number of U.S. Representatives and their staff in Washington, DC, in support of HR 2381, the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009. If passed, the Act would require an occupational safety and health standard mandating that all healthcare employers use modern patient-lifting equipment, instead of the backs of healthcare workers, for the safe lifting and moving of dependent patients and residents throughout hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, home health agencies, hospice, and other healthcare facilities across the U.S.A.

HR 2381 states, “The safe patient handling and injury prevention standard shall require the use of engineering controls to perform lifting, transferring, and repositioning of patients and the elimination of manual lifting of patients by direct-care registered nurses and all other health care workers, through the use of mechanical devices to the greatest degree feasible except where the use of safe patient handling practices can be demonstrated to compromise patient care.”

If enacted, an OSHA standard would require all health care employers “…to develop and implement a safe patient handling and injury prevention plan within six months of the date of promulgation of the final standard, which plan shall include hazard identification, risk assessments, and control measures in relation to patient care duties and patient handling [and] each health care employer to purchase, use, maintain, and have accessible an adequate number of safe lift mechanical devices.”

CHAPS to Capitol Hill

CHAPS visiting Capitol Hill in support of this crucial legislation included Marsha Medlin, RN, founder of the Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS); Anne Hudson, RN, BSN, founder of Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA (WING USA); Susan Epstein, RN, BSN, Work Injured Nurses’ Group Connecticut (WING CT) State Leader; Bill Borwegen, MPH, Health and Safety Director, Service Employees International Union (SEIU); Walter Frederickson, RN, Executive Director, United American Nurses (UAN, AFL-CIO); Jay Witter, MPA, Senior Government Relations Representative, United American Nurses (UAN, AFL-CIO); Sara Markle-Elder, Government Relations Specialist, United American Nurses (UAN, AFL-CIO); Elizabeth Shogren, RN, BS, Health and Safety Specialist, Minnesota Nurses Association (MNNA); Donna Zankowski, RN, COHN, American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN), Director Seneca Valley Maryland Chapter; and, importantly, Erin Zrncic, senior nursing student, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, who represented the next generation of nurses who must be protected from disabling musculoskeletal injuries caused by manual patient lifting.

Members of the broad-based coalition came from Washington, DC, and from states around the country, including Connecticut, Maryland, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Oregon. The CHAPS met early for breakfast in the Rayburn Building cafeteria, and then spent the day in scheduled appointments with members of Congress and/or their staff, as well as drop-in office visits to other members as time permitted during the busy day. Midday luncheon, hosted by United American Nurses, AFL-CIO, was held at the Capitol Hill Club, less than two blocks from the United States Capitol.

U.S. Representatives and/or their staff or offices visited by CHAPS included John Conyers, Jr. (D, MI-14), sponsor of HR 2381; Steve Cohen (D, TN-9); Peter DeFazio (D, OR-4); Raul Grijalva (D, AZ-7); Phil Hare (D, IL-17); Carolyn McCarthy (D, NY-4); Chris Murphy (D, CT-5); James Oberstar (D, MN-8); Jared Polis (D, CO-2); Joe Sestak (D, PA-7); Tim Walz (D, MN-1); Lynn Woolsey (D, CA-6); as well as other Representatives; and, also, the offices of Senators Al Franken (D-MN) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Discussion of the proposed legislation raised insightful questions by the members of Congress and their staff. Addressed were issues such as healthcare workers suffering the highest musculoskeletal work-injury rate in the country, primarily from manual patient and resident lifting, most of which could be prevented with safe lifting equipment; the cost of patient-lift equipment being recovered by savings on reduced injuries, as well as being covered by a provision in the bill for financial assistance for needy healthcare facilities; the loss of an estimated 12% of nurses annually to back pain and injuries caused by lifting patients and residents; the fact that HR 2381 is not related to the rescinded Ergonomics Standard, is not an attempt to revive the ergonomics issue, and is, in fact, not ergonomics at all, but stands alone as industry-specific legislation to remove exceedingly hazardous amounts of weight – amounts of weight not tolerated in blue-collar male-dominated industries – from the backs of (95% female) professional nurses and other healthcare workers; the absolute necessity of nurses and other healthcare workers being protected by their employers against back-breaking lifting in the home health setting as well as in any other healthcare setting, including discussion of readily-available portable equipment designed to be transported in and out of homes, and a pilot program in the state of Oregon patterned after successful programs for safe mechanical lifting already implemented in home healthcare settings in other countries; and, significantly, the urgency to protect patients and residents from needless pain and injuries caused by manual lifting and moving, such as bruising, skin tears, abrasions, dislocations, having tubes dislodged, and being dropped.

CHAPS Meeting with Congressman John Conyers, Jr, Sponsor of HR 2381

The highlight of CHAPS’ day on Capitol Hill was meeting with the sponsor of HR 2381, Congressman John Conyers, Jr. (Democrat, Michigan District 14), and members of his staff including Cynthia Martin, Chief of Staff; Michael Darner, Esq., Legislative Counsel; Joel Segal, Legislative Assistant; and Maggie Littlewood, Staff Assistant/Junior Legislative Assistant.

Congressman John Conyers began with, “How many nurses get injured lifting patients?” “Too many!” he exclaimed, going on to say, “It’s time to get militant. Someone has to be held accountable for these injuries. All 535 members of Congress need to be held accountable.”


Photo: July 23, 2009, Washington, DC. Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS) members met in the Congressional Library with Congressman John Conyers, Jr., sponsor of HR 2381 Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009. Left to right: Sara Markle-Elder, United American Nurses, AFL-CIO; Walt Frederickson, United American Nurses, AFL-CIO; Bill Borwegen, Service Employees International Union; Susan Epstein, Work Injured Nurses’ Group Connecticut State Leader; Donna Zankowski, American Association of Occupational Health Nurses; Anne Hudson, founder of Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA; Elizabeth Shogren, Minnesota Nurses Association; Congressman John Conyers, Jr., Marsha Medlin, founder of Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety; Erin Zrncic, senior nursing student, Indiana University of Pennsylvania; and Jay Witter, United American Nurses, AFL-CIO.

Healthcare Workers: Highest Rate, Seven Times National Average for Musculoskeletal Disorders!

CHAPS agrees that it is past time to take necessary legislative action to stop the epidemic of disabling injuries being allowed, essentially being required, to occur among healthcare workers throughout much of the U.S. healthcare industry which still requires the manual lifting of outrageous amounts of weight associated with patient and resident lifting, dubbed by this writer as “forced hazardous lifting.”

Per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) “Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses” dated October 16, 2007, “General medical and surgical hospitals reported more injuries and illnesses than any other industry in 2006.” There were 264,300 injuries and illnesses in hospitals, 127,500 in ambulatory health care services, and 121,100 in nursing care facilities, totaling 512,900 work-related injuries and illnesses, showing that “health care” is the riskiest industry for workers in the country!

This sad statement is substantiated by healthcare workers having the highest rate of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) of all occupations in America. In 2007, registered nurses suffered 8,580 reported and accepted musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) requiring days away from work, the seventh highest number of MSDs in the country, while nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants suffered 24,340 MSDs, the second highest number, and, at 252 MSDs per 10,000 workers, the highest rate of MSDs, more than seven times the national MSD average for all occupations (
www.bls.gov).

Note that the horrific work injury rate to healthcare workers includes only reported and accepted claims. With an estimated 50% of work injury going unreported, if the true numbers were known, it could not be disputed that healthcare worker injury caused by manual patient and resident lifting is an absolute public health crisis.

HR 2381 is Not Ergonomics!

To answer the question of some: The Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 is not ergonomics! There is no relationship between HR 2381 and the rescinded Ergonomics Standard – they are not the same!

HR 2381 stands alone as industry specific legislation designed to remove enormous amounts of weight from the backs of nurses and other healthcare workers which are not permitted in any other industry, and which cause healthcare workers to suffer the highest rate of disabling work injury in America!

No Other Industry Requires Lifting Such Outrageous Loads

No other industry requires workers to repeatedly lean forward, often many times per hour, placing the spine in its most vulnerable position, and lift by hand 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600 pounds and more! This is a recipe for disastrous disabling injuries, the “perfect storm” for back injury to healthcare workers! This writer has stated before that if a researcher wanted to create back injury, it could be done by having subjects lean forward and lift dangerous amounts of weight.

Dock workers do not often gather a team around a 400 pound craft and lift. Mechanics do not often gather a team to lift an engine out of a car. Other industries use equipment designed to lift the load such as forklifts, hoists, etc. A similar reasonable approach should prevail in the American healthcare industry, with the routine use of modern patient-lifting equipment designed to safely lift the most precious load, the human body.

The Revised National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Lifting Equation has yielded 35 pounds as the maximum recommended weight limit for safety with most patient handling tasks, and even less than 35 pounds when performed under less than ideal circumstances! (Thomas R Waters, PhD, CPE. “When Is It Safe to Manually Lift a Patient?” August 2007. American Journal of Nursing 2007; 107(8):53-58.)

The evidence indicates that injuries suffered by nurses and other healthcare workers from being forced into outrageous lifting are not “accidents” but are more or less deliberately planned and executed events caused by lifting excessive weights repeatedly proven to cause injury! This is not new information. Though the evidence on the absolute danger of manual patient lifting has been mounting for decades, much of the American healthcare system still treats nurses, nurse assistants, and other healthcare workers as disposable, using them as human lifting machines until “broken,” until they can lift no more, and then discarding them.

It is past time for implementation of an Occupational and Safety Health Standard to stop “health care” employers from permanently damaging the bodies of nurses, nurse assistants, and other healthcare workers by making them exceed all known safety weight limits for lifting. With many kinds of safe, injury-preventing, patient-lifting equipment available now for many years, it is a mystery why the nursing community has not been more assertive in demanding a halt to the devastating injuries and loss of nursing personnel caused by “forced hazardous lifting.”

Safe Patient Handling Protects Patients and Residents

From Bill Borwegan, Health and Safety Director, Service Employees International Union: “HR 2381, the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, is not ergonomics legislation! HR 2381 is timely as it dovetails with healthcare reform legislation and would make our healthcare system safer by first and foremost protecting patients from drops and skin tears - skin tears that lead to infections - part of the 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths from hospital acquired infections each year.”

Safe patient handling–no manual lifting for healthcare. Safer for nursing staff. Safer for patients and residents. Saves money for employers and insurance companies. A win-win-win, given the political will to implement.

President Obama Supports “Safe Lift” to Protect Nurses

From Obama’s campaign statement “Barack Obama: Fighting for America’s Nurses” http://obama.3cdn.net/cd0502c534526b43f0_wpgxmv5te.pdf:

“Implement Assistive Patient Handling Technology to Improve Nurse Safety: Six of the top ten occupations at highest risk for back injuries are in health care, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Nurses are at high risk for sustaining back injuries, which are most likely to occur when moving a patient. Barack Obama believes it is critically important to implement ‘safe lift’ and other assistive technologies to protect nurses from preventable injury. Barack Obama will expand and accelerate research to identify novel and innovative technologies and determine which are the most effective for various medical settings. He will also provide federal financial and technical assistance to hospitals, nursing and long-term care facilities to employ effective assistive technologies and will direct the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to implement meaningful standards that protect nurses from injury related to patient care.”

CHAPS motto adopted: “Save Backs, Save Bucks”

During discussion of research demonstrating great reductions in back injuries to nurses and other healthcare workers by the use of safe patient-lifting equipment, and of tremendous cost savings for employers and insurance companies with injury prevention, the phrase “Save Backs, Save Bucks” was coined by Cynthia Martin, Chief of Staff for Congressman Conyers.

Agreeing that “Save Backs, Save Bucks” incorporates principal goals of preventing injuries and preserving financial resources, members of CHAPS agreed on adopting “Save Backs, Save Bucks” as a CHAPS motto.

Co-Sponsors of HR 2381

Following CHAPS’ day on Capitol Hill, two more Representatives have co-sponsored the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, for a total of seven co-sponsors, as of July 28, 2009. It is reported that at least two more Representatives have pledged to co-sponsor upon return from Summer Recess next month in September. The current list of co-sponsors is provided by date, from http://thomas.loc.gov:

HR 2381 Sponsor: Rep. John Conyers (D, MI-14) introduced on May 13, 2009.

Co-sponsors, as of July 29, 2009:
Rep. Lynn C. Woolsey (D, CA-6), May 13, 2009, original co-sponsor
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D, NY-4), July 7, 2009
Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D, AZ-7), July 15, 2009
Rep. Phil Hare (D, IL-17), July 15, 2009
Rep. Steve Cohen (D, TN-9), July 20, 2009
Rep. James L. Oberstar (D, MN-8), July 27, 2009
Rep. Joes Sestak (D, PA-7), July 28, 2009

Links to Text, History, and Status of HR 2381

HR 2381 was referred to the following committees:
House Education and Labor
House Energy and Commerce
House Ways and Means

The PDF of HR 2381 published by the Government Printing Office is at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h2381ih.txt.pdf.

Links to the text, history, and status of HR 2381:
http://www.house.gov/
http://thomas.loc.gov/home/c111query.html
http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-2381.
http://www.opencongress.org/bill/111-h2381/show:

Broad base of support for HR 2381

Key organizations working with CHAPS for passage of HR 2381, and other organizations which have expressed support of HR 2381, include:

Founder of CHAPS, Marsha Medlin, RN, Safe Lifting Solutions
Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA (WING USA)
National Network of Career Nursing Assistants (NNCNA)
United American Nurses (UAN, AFL-CIO)
Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Minnesota Nurses Association (MNNA)
National Organizations for Women (NOW)
American Association for Long Term Care Nursing (AALTCN)
Oregon Nurses Association (ONA)
Alaska Nurses Association (AaNA)
American Nurses Association (ANA)
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of Government Employees
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
California Nurses Association/NNOC
Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)
RNs Working Together, AFL-CIO
United Food and Commercial Workers Union
United Steelworkers


A letter of support by the American Association for Long Term Care Nursing states, “The American Association for Long Term Care Nursing (AALTCN) supports the Work Injured Nurses Group (WING USA) and the newly formed ‘Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety’ (CHAPS) in their efforts to protect Nurses and Health Care Workers across the continuum of health care.”

On June 2, 2009, a letter from American Nurses Association to Representative John Conyers stated, in part:

“ANA strongly supports your introduction of H.R. 2381: The Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009…ANA was pleased that all health care workers, not just direct-care registered nurses, would be protected under this standard…ANA has been on record as supporting the use of an Occupational Health and Safety Standard (OSHA) for safe patient handling and movement - versus promoting voluntary guidelines.”

ANA’s letter goes on to relate back injuries from lifting to the nurse shortage, compounded by an aging nurse workforce, retention issues, etc, and additionally emphasizes cost-savings and the benefit to patients:

“[HR 2381] will also improve the safety of patient care delivery while reducing work-related health care costs. It is important to emphasize the benefits of a safe patient handling and movement program for patients. The potential for patient injury (such as falls and skin tears) as a consequence of a manual handling mishap is reduced by using assistive equipment and devices. Equipment and devices provide a more secure process for lifting, transferring or repositioning patients. Patients are afforded a safer means to progress through their care, have less anxiety, are more comfortable and maintain their dignity and privacy. Assistive patient-handling equipment can be selected to match a patient's ability to assist in his or her own movement, thereby promoting patient autonomy and rehabilitation.

“ANA believes that the nation – now facing a serious nursing shortage – can no longer afford the estimated 12 percent of RNs who leave the profession annually due to back injuries. The ANA looks forward to working with you to support the enactment of this important legislation.”

You can read Anne Hudson’s story of spinal injury and loss of bedside nursing career from lifting patients in ANA’s “Handle With Care” brochure at ANA Handle With Care Brochure PDF and can access the toolkit for incorporating evidence-based patient handling into a nursing school curriculum at Safe Patient Handling and Movement Nursing School Curriculum Toolkit [pdf].

National Organization for Women to Issue Action Alert on HR 2381

Male healthcare workers suffer injuries from lifting patients and residents at an equivalent rate as their female co-workers. In fact, some have observed that male healthcare workers may be more at risk of injury due to being called on more often for assistance with lifting. Still, with some 95% of healthcare workers being women, it is, by the numbers, primarily women suffering the devastating musculoskeletal injuries caused by manually lifting patients and residents.

Noting that most blue-collar male-dominated industries protect workers from lifting hazardous amounts of weight, Anne Hudson, RN, founder of Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA, reached out to the National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) which pledged support of HR 2381, as announced in a recent Inside OSHA article:

“N.O.W. recently said it will endorse the bill [HR 2381] and is preparing an action alert on the topic. In an e-mail to Inside OSHA, N.O.W. President Terry O’Neill said it is time for the country to install patient lifting equipment in health care institutions, as has already been done in other countries to reduce injuries in health care workers.

“’It is inexcusable that our health care industry has failed to take common sense initiatives to protect nurses and health care workers who must frequently move and lift patients,’ she said. ‘With the current shortage of nurses, skilled health care professionals in this country, we cannot afford to lose these good workers to back, neck and spinal injuries.’” (“Safe Patient Handling Bill Gains Momentum with Aid of New Coalition.” Sara Ditta. Inside OSHA. August 3, 2009. http://healthpolicynewsstand.com/hns_spcl_subj.asp?subj=election06&start=53370.)

Unions Seek Co-Sponsors for Safe Patient Handling Legislation

The following letter seeking co-sponsors for HR 2381 was sent July 21, 2009, to every member of the House of Representatives, signed by the AFL-CIO and 11 other unions. Similar wording may be used for contacting the U.S. Representative for your District, in asking him or her to co-sponsor the bill.


Help Protect Millions of Nurses and Patients -- Support Safe Patient
Handling Legislation – Cosponsor H.R. 2381


Dear Representative:

On behalf of patients and health care workers from cross the county, we strongly urge you to cosponsor the “Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009’’ (H.R. 2381), introduced by Representative John Conyers. This important legislation would require the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) to develop and implement a standard that will eliminate, to the greatest degree feasible based on technological and medical considerations, manual lifting of patients by direct-care registered nurses and other health care workers through the use of mechanical devices.

Thousands of nurses and other health care providers are being injured every year because they are forced to manually lift patients. Direct-care registered nurses rank tenth among all occupations for getting musculoskeletal disorders, getting injured at a higher rate than laborers, movers, and truck drivers. In 2007, Direct-care registered nurses ranked seventh among all occupations for the number of cases of musculoskeletal disorders resulting in days away from work - 8,580 total cases. Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants sustained 24,340 musculoskeletal disorders in 2007, the second highest number of any occupation. The leading cause of these injuries in health care are the result of patient lifting, transferring, and repositioning injuries. The physical demands of the nursing profession lead many nurses to leave the profession. Fifty-two percent of nurses complain of chronic back pain and 38 percent suffer from pain severe enough to require leave from work. Many nurses suffering back injury do not return to work.

Patients are not at optimum levels of safety while being lifted, transferred, or repositioned manually. Mechanical lift programs can reduce skin tears suffered by patients by threefold, allowing patients a safer means to progress through their care. The development of assistive patient handling equipment and devices has essentially rendered the act of strict manual patient handling unnecessary as a function of nursing care. Application of assistive patient handling technology improves nursing practice by addressing the needs of patients and staff. A growing number of health care facilities have incorporated patient handling technology and have reported positive results. Injuries among nursing staff have dramatically declined since implementing patient handling equipment and devices. As a result, the number of lost work days secondary to injury and staff turnover has declined. Cost-benefit analyses have also shown that assistive patient handling technology successfully reduces workers’ compensation costs for musculoskeletal disorders.

To address this critical problem, Congressman John Conyers, along with Representative Lynn Woolsey as an original cosponsor, has introduced the “Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009’’ (H.R. 2381). This legislation would require OSHA to develop and implement a standard that will eliminate, to the greatest degree feasible based on technological and medical considerations, manual lifting of patients by direct-care registered nurses and other health care workers through the use of mechanical devices. The legislation will also require health care facilities to develop a plan to comply with the standard (with input from healthcare workers), provides protection for health care workers through refusal of assignment and whistleblower provisions, and requires the Secretary to perform audits.

Once again, we strongly urge you to cosponsor H.R. 2381, which will protect millions of patients and health care workers. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.

Sincerely,

American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
American Federation of Government Employees
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
California Nurses Association/NNOC
Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW)
RNs Working Together, AFL-CIO
Service Employees International Union, CTW
United American Nurses, AFL-CIO
United Food and Commercial Workers Union
United Steelworkers

Co-sponsors Needed for Passage of HR 2381!

The problem of injury from manual patient and resident lifting, and the solution by removal of hazardous lifting from the backs of healthcare workers with use of safe lifting equipment, are well-documented. Now is the time to implement the proven solution with a national mandate for use of safe patient-lifting equipment, across all settings, wherever dependent persons require assistance from healthcare workers with lifting and moving needs.

Some organizations are taking up the call to stop the injuries by issuing “Action Alerts,” asking their membership to call the Representative for their District, asking him or her to co-sponsor HR 2381, Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009.

HR 2381 currently has seven co-sponsors out of 535 members of Congress (435 Representatives, 100 Senators). Many, many more co-sponsors are needed to move HR 2381 forward! You can help!

If your organization has not issued an “Action Alert to Call Your Representative to Co-sponsor HR 2381,” provide this information to your organization, to get out to their membership.

Visit, call, and write your U.S. Representative. Ask him or her to co-sponsor HR 2381, Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, to protect healthcare workers and patients and residents from preventable injuries caused by manual lifting.

Locate and Call the U.S. Representative for Your District to Co-Sponsor!

Locate your U.S. Representative toll free: Call 1-877-702-0976. Select “2” for Representatives. The automated line will locate the Representative for your District by your phone number and address, and will connect you to your Representative’s office.

Or, call the Capitol Hill switchboard at 1-202-224-3121 and ask for your Representative.

To find the U.S. Representative for your district online, go to http://www.house.gov/. Enter your zip code in the “Find Your Representative by Zip” box at the top left of the screen. It will take you to a link with contact info for the Representative for your District.

For links to contact info for all of the U.S. Representatives for your state, go to http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml.

Each completed call asking your Representative to co-sponsor HR 2381 represents many others who are thinking about calling, but just have not made the call, so every call counts! Sometimes it takes only a few calls to help your Representative decide to co-sponsor.

Plan to call every week, asking them to co-sponsor, or thanking them for co-sponsoring, and reminding them of your support. Simple phone calls are very important in helping the bill move forward, to protect healthcare workers and patients and residents from the preventable, devastating, injuries caused by manual lifting.

More Information about CHAPS

For more info about CHAPS, or to be added to the CHAPS email list, contact the founder of CHAPS, Marsha Medlin, RN, at mmedlin498@aol.com.

With best wishes to all…Anne

Anne Hudson, RN, BSN

August 23, 2009
Founder, Work Injured Nurses' Group USA (WING USA)
Coos Bay, Oregon
Email: anne@wingusa.org
Website: www.wingusa.org


August 19, 2009

Dear WING USA Friends,

With permission from the Royal College of Nursing Work Injured, Ill and Disabled Nurses Group (RCN WING), following is the article “Spotlight on WING USA” recently published in the RCN WING Quarterly, Spring/Summer 2009.

Best wishes to all…Anne

Anne Hudson, RN, BSN

August 19, 2009
Founder, Work Injured Nurses' Group USA (WING USA)
Coos Bay, Oregon
Email: anne@wingusa.org
Website: www.wingusa.org


http://www.rcn.org.uk/support/services/work_injured_nurses/news_stories/spotlight_on_wing_usa

Spotlight on WING USA

Published: 23 July 2009

ANNE HUDSON, Founder of Work Injured Nurses' Group USA, gives us some insights into how they do things on the other side of the Atlantic.

Greetings, UK friends and RCN WING Quarterly readers, and thank you for allowing me to tell you a little about myself and Work Injured Nurses' Group USA (WING USA).

I am an RN in Coos Bay, Oregon. In the year 2000, I suffered a severe lumbar spine injury from lifting hospital patients and this eventually required surgery. After limited days of workers' compensation "light duty", my hospital had no other work for me if I could not return to lifting patients so I became one of the "disappearing nurses".

I knew this was a very big problem for nurses so I went to the Internet expecting to find a lot of information when I searched for "back injured nurses", but instead I found nothing! I discovered that "no lifting" was in place in England, Australia and other countries, and was gaining momentum in America, but still, I found no assistance, information, or support here for back-injured nurses themselves.

With the help of friends and a dream of helping injured nurses, I started a website originally called "BIN There -Back Injured Nurses" (which helped put the phrase "back injured nurses" into online search engines!). The name was changed in 2002 to Work Injured Nurses' Group USA (WING USA) and the website set up at: www.wingusa.org , with the name patterned after - and, if I may say so, in sisterhood with - your wonderful organisation, RCN WING.

Looking abroad for inspiration

My first international contacts were Maria Bryson, RCN WING Steward and Safety Representative in the UK, and Elizabeth Langford, Australian Nursing Federation Victoria Branch, and Co-ordinator of Injured Nurses Support Group (INSG) in Melbourne. Inspired by the commitment of my new friends who taught me about the extensive help provided to injured and ill nurses by RCN WING and by the ANF and INSG, I set out to provide, if it was within my power, some measure of support and help to American nurses.

Over 500 people are now on the WING USA list for periodic emails, primarily updates on advances with state and national legislation for safe patient handling. There are nurses, nurse assistants and other health care workers, as well as others in health and safety, occupational health, management, administration, education and so on, representing hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities and organisations.

A quick tour round the website

The most recent legislative news, posted on the WING USA website, regards the anticipated re-introduction of a national bill for safe patient handling in the US.

On the "Feedback" page (www.wingusa.org/book_feedback.htm) are several hundred comments by injured nurses about the book I co-edited with William Charney: Back Injury Among Healthcare Workers: Causes, Solutions, and Impacts.

See "Read Others' Stories" at www.wingusa.org/story1.htm for the experiences of nurses whose bodies, lives and nursing careers have been badly damaged by work injury. Most are back injuries from lifting patients and most could have been prevented by modern lift equipment, instead of using the backs of nurses to lift patients who are growing ever larger in an epidemic of obesity in America.

Providing a voice for injured nurses, keeping the stories of "disappearing nurses" alive, is crucial - we are here, and we do too count!

The "Attorney" page (www.wingusa.org/attorney_page.htm) is an effort to link injured nurses with attorneys who are experienced in representing injured nurses, with the goal of expanding this service to cover the entire country.

Pathetically, back injured nurses often must undertake a legal battle with their employer to prove their injury is from lifting up to thousands of pounds per shift, and to fight for any benefits. As one nurse put it: "It's awful. You're injured. You're disposable. And now you need an attorney."

State leaders

Another new effort for WING USA is appointing a "State Leader" in all 50 states to provide injured nurses with a contact in their area for mutual support and encouragement, and for sharing experiences and information. So far 11 nurses and nurse assistants in 10 states have become state leaders and, again, the hope is to cover the whole country.

We'll soon be adding a State Leader page to the website to help injured nurses around the country connect to their local person. The basic requirements for being a state leader are willingness to communicate with other injured nurses in their state, to draw them together for mutual support, to validate their experience and to gain from the experience of others.

State leaders may also be involved in a variety of activities in their locale including group meetings, writing for publication, media outreach, speaking at events and political involvement for legislation on "safe patient handling - no manual lift" in their state and the nation.

Looking ahead...

Our larger hope is for national nurse organisations, which have the power, structure, and resources, to initiate nationwide programmes to help injured nurses, particularly advocacy programmes to help work-injured nurses remain with their employer.

Though nurses may suffer many kinds of on-the-job injuries, the main thrust of WING USA remains back injury caused by lifting patients because it is the most common injury of nurses and because the injuries are so severe and so preventable - yet many nurses lose their job when disabled from being required to do the back-breaking work of machines.
Safety nets are few - and inadequate

In the US, health insurance is usually linked to employment. When injured nurses lose their job, they lose their health insurance. Workers' compensation is inadequate, usually temporary and does not "compensate" for the permanent loss of health, financial security, nursing position with seniority, retirement and health benefits - and sometimes for the loss of an entire nursing career.

For many years, nurses have been blamed for their back injuries, told they did not practice their body mechanics. But now the cat's out of the bag. Research has proven that body mechanics cannot prevent injury with patient lifting. No manual patient lifting technique is safe.

So where nurses have been caused to suffer painful debilitating injuries through unsafe nursing practice with manual patient lifting, it is past time for our nurse organisations to step forward and advocate for employers to retain their nurses who have been injured by lifting in permanent light duty nursing positions.

Doing the right thing

It is just not right for employers to cause injuries by requiring manual lifting and then terminate the employment of nurse victims when they cannot keep on lifting dangerous amounts of weight.

While efforts for policies and legislation for safe patient handling increase across the country, it is every bit as important to assist nurses to remain with their employer after being injured and/or disabled by unsafe nursing practice with manual patient lifting which continues in many areas.

Using the platform of WING USA, with a network across this land and beyond, I plan to continue raising awareness of the needs of nurses who have been injured while caring for others - colleagues who seem largely abandoned by the nursing community.

Anne Hudson RN BSN now works as a public health nurse for a county health department. Her activities with WING USA are strictly voluntary. All royalties from her book Back Injury Among Health Care Workers: Causes, Solutions and Impacts go to injured nurses, nurse assistants and other health care workers. She lives in Coos Bay, Oregon, with her husband Bill. They have two sons and daughters-in-law, and three grandchildren.

© 2007/08/09 Royal College of Nursing


WING USA SPH Legislative Update July 14, 2009:

Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety (CHAPS) Formed

for Passage of HR 2381 Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009

The new “Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety” (CHAPS) was recently formed for passage of HR 2381 Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009. On May 13, 2009, U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr. (Democrat, Michigan District 14), introduced national legislation for the third time calling for the safe handling of dependent patients and residents throughout the American health care system (see details at www.wingusa.org).

HR 2381 would mandate the safe lifting and moving of all patients and residents by use of modern patient-lift equipment, instead of using the backs of nurses, nurse assistants, and other health care workers to handle such hazardous amounts of weight.

The Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 calls for “the use of engineering controls to perform lifting, transferring, and repositioning of patients and the elimination of manual lifting of patients by direct-care registered nurses and all other health care workers, through the use of mechanical devices to the greatest degree feasible except where the use of safe patient handling practices can be demonstrated to compromise patient care. The standard shall apply to all health care employers.”

Safe Patient Handling Protects Patients and Healthcare Workers

Replacing the unsafe nursing practice of manual patient and resident lifting with safe lift and transfer equipment would allow many nurses, nurse assistants, and other healthcare workers to escape from working with chronic back pain, and from the devastating injuries, lifetime disabilities, and loss of career caused by manual patient lifting. Eliminating manual lifting would also protect patients and residents against pain and injuries caused by manual lifting such as bruising, abrasions, skin tears, tube dislodgement, dislocations, and being dropped.

“CHAPS” is born!

To this end, with a vision of reducing injuries caused by manual patient lifting, the Coalition for Healthcare Worker and Patient Safety was formed in June 2009 under the leadership of Marsha Medlin, RN. A broad coalition of organizations and individuals are now collaborating in the effort for passage of HR 2381, including Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA (WING USA), National Network of Career Nursing Assistants (NNCNA), United American Nurses (UAN, AFL-CIO), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), plus a variety of others including occupational health and safety professionals, professional nursing associations, labor unions representing healthcare workers, workers’ compensation carriers, patient lift equipment companies, and other organizations and individuals committed to patient and healthcare worker safety.

Patient handling affects us all!

Being lifted or moved by healthcare workers will literally, physically, touch every single one of us, or someone we love, at some point in time!

The toll of manual lifting of patients and residents is tremendous on healthcare workers who remain among top occupations for disabling musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). In 2007, registered nurses suffered 8,580 [reported and accepted] MSDs, seventh highest in the country. Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants suffered the second highest number at 24,340 MSDs, and the highest rate of MSDs in the country at 252 per 10,000 workers, over seven times the national MSD average for all occupations. EMTs and paramedics had the second highest rate with 179 MSDs per 10,000 workers. Categories of healthcare workers combined consistently outrank every other industry for musculoskeletal disorders, primarily from manually lifting and moving people (http://www.aflcio.org/issues/safety/memorial/upload/_20.pdf, http://www.bls.gov/iif/home.htm Chart A, and http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh2.pdf).

Co-sponsors Needed for Passage of HR 2381

HR 2381 was introduced by Representative Conyers on May 13, 2009, with one co-sponsor, Representative Lynn Woolsey (Democrat, California District 6). On July 7, 2009, Representative Carolyn McCarthy (Democrat, New York District 4) came on board as the second co-sponsor.

Many more co-sponsors are needed to move the safe patient handling bill forward! You can help! Visit, call, and write U.S. Representatives in Congress from your state, asking them to co-sponsor HR 2381 Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009.

Locate U.S. Representatives

For links to contact info for U.S. Representatives from your state, go to http://www.house.gov/house/MemberWWW_by_State.shtml.

Or, go to http://www.house.gov/, and enter your zip code in the “Find Your Representative by Zip” box at the top left of the screen. It will take you to a link with contact info of the Representative for your district.

More info about CHAPS

For more info about CHAPS, or to be added to the CHAPS email list, contact the principal organizer of CHAPS, Marsha Medlin, RN, at mmedlin498@aol.com.

Anne Hudson, RN, BSN

July 14, 2009
Founder, Work Injured Nurses' Group USA (WING USA)
Coos Bay, Oregon
Email: anne@wingusa.org
Website: www.wingusa.org


WING USA Legislative Update May 20, 2009:
National Bill for Safe Patient Handling Introduced Third Time

Dear WING USA Friends,

Great news! A national bill calling for the safe handling of patients and residents throughout the U.S.A. has been re-introduced for the third time, calling for “the elimination of manual lifting of patients,” covering “nurses and all other health care workers,” and extending to “all health care employers”!

On May 13, 2009, House Resolution (H.R.) 2381 “Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009” was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives of the 111th Congress by U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr., Democrat, Michigan District 14, (202) 225-5126, John.Conyers@mail.house.gov. H.R. 2381 is co-sponsored by Representative Lynn C. Woolsey, Democrat, California District 6, (202) 225-5161.

From http://thomas.loc.gov/home/c111query.html, searching by “Bill Number” for “H.R. 2381” gives:

H.R. 2381, Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, is “To direct the Secretary of Labor to issue an occupational safety and health standard to reduce injuries to patients, direct-care registered nurses, and all other health care workers by establishing a safe patient handling and injury prevention standard, and for other purposes.”

If H.R. 2381 is enacted, a safe patient handling and injury prevention standard is to be promulgated within two years, covering nurses and all health care workers providing direct patient care, which would include nurses, nurse assistants, lift teams, etc., and extending to all health care employers, across hospitals, nursing homes, home health, hospice, clinics, and other health care facilities.

The Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 would require “the use of engineering controls to perform lifting, transferring, and repositioning of patients and the elimination of manual lifting of patients by direct-care registered nurses and all other health care workers, through the use of mechanical devices to the greatest degree feasible except where the use of safe patient handling practices can be demonstrated to compromise patient care. The standard shall apply to all health care employers.”

“Health care worker” is defined by H.R. 2381 as “an individual who has been assigned to lift, reposition, or move patients or residents in a health care facility.”

“Health care employer” is defined as “an outpatient health care facility, hospital, nursing home, home health care agency, hospice, federally qualified health center, nurse managed health center, rural health clinic, or any similar health care facility that employs direct-care registered nurses or other health care workers.”

H.R. 2381 makes provision for refusal of assignment by a nurse or other health care worker where the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard would be violated or where the nurse or other health care worker has not received training designated by the standard.

H.R. 2381 calls for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to establish a $200,000,000 grant program to assist health care facilities, such as hospitals, nursing facilities, home health care, and outpatient facilities, which demonstrate financial need for purchasing safe patient handling and injury prevention equipment to comply with the standard. Importantly, $50,000,000 of the $200,000,000 grant will be available specifically for home health agencies or entities.

On May 13, 2009, the same day that H.R. 2381 was introduced into the House of Representatives, the bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and Labor, to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and to the Committee on Ways and Means “for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned.”

Because many bills never make it out of committee, as with the first two national bills for safe patient handling, now is the time to encourage members of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 2381, Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009.

Health Care is Dangerous Work!

In 2007, general medical and surgical hospitals reported more injuries and illnesses than any other industry with 253,500 cases (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/osh.nr0.htm).

In 2007, registered nurses, and nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants, remained in the top ten occupations for injuries and illnesses, with 20,000 or more cases in the past three years (http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/case/osch0038.pdf).

In 2007, registered nurses had 20,020 injuries and illnesses involving days away from work, with a rate of 125 cases per 10,000 workers. Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants had 44,930 injuries and illnesses involving days away from work, the highest rate in the country at 465 cases per 10,000 full-time workers. Twenty-one percent of registered nurses and 17.5 percent of nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants were away from work for 31 or more days (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/archives/osh2_11202008.pdf and http://www.bls.gov/news.release/osh2.nr0.htm).

Health care workers remain among top occupations for disabling musculoskeletal disorders, primarily back injuries from lifting and moving patients and residents.

In 2007, there were 66,060 musculoskeletal disorders in Health Care and Social Assistance requiring days away from work (http://www.bls.gov/iif/oshwc/osh/case/ostb1941.pdf).

In 2007, registered nurses suffered 8,580 musculoskeletal disorders requiring days away from work, seventh highest number in the country for MSDs. In 2007, nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants suffered 24,340 musculoskeletal disorders, second highest number, and highest rate of MSDs in the country at 252 per 10,000 workers, a rate more than seven times the national MSD average for all occupations. The second highest MSD injury rate went to emergency medical technicians and paramedics with 179 MSDs per 10,000 workers. (http://www.aflcio.org/issues/safety/memorial/upload/_20.pdf, http://www.bls.gov/iif/home.htm Chart A, and http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/osh2.pdf).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2008-09 Edition, states that “Registered nurses…are vulnerable to back injury when moving patients.” The Handbook describes the three educational pathways to registered nursing and gives the median annual earnings of registered nurses as $57,280 in May 2006 (http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos083.htm). Nursing education, income, and career can be lost to disabling injuries caused by the lack of much of the health care industry to create a culture of safety around health care workers including use of modern safety equipment for lifting and moving patients and residents.

Research has shown repeatedly that there is no such thing as a safe manual patient lift, regardless of the technique used. Disabling musculoskeletal injuries to the back, neck, shoulder, etc, caused by lifting patients and residents are not “accidents.” Such injuries are the predictable result of health care workers, 95% women, being required to lift hazardous amounts of weight which are not tolerated to be manually lifted in many other male-dominated blue-collar industries.

While valuable male health care workers are severely injured and disabled by manual patient and resident lifting at an equivalent rate as female health care workers, the fact remains that the great majority of health care workers are women and it is, by the numbers, primarily women who are still required by many health care employers to lift amounts of weight well-documented to be dangerous.

Allowing the health care industry to continue inflicting injuries and causing the loss of nurses, nurse assistants, and other health care workers by preventable disabilities should no longer be tolerated. It is recognized that injuries to health care workers are not the goal, but they are the predictable result, permitted by health care employers who require the manual lifting of hazardous loads which should be borne by machines, not by the backs of our country’s health care workers. Body mechanics have proven to be a myth as protection from injury with patient lifting, so it is no longer acceptable for employers to reply upon body mechanics training as protection for their employees.

Volunteerism by the health care industry to protect nurses and other health care workers by provision of, policy requiring use of, and culture supporting the use of safe patient lift equipment, across the nearly 6,000 hospitals and 18,000 nursing homes in our country, clearly has not worked in large measure. It is past time for America to acknowledge the epidemic of injuries caused by manual patient lifting and take bold action to protect our health care workers and dependent patients and residents with legislation to protect against needless painful injuries and disabilities.

Co-Sponsors Needed for H.R. 2381

The support of additional co-sponsors would help forward passage of H.R. 2381, the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, which would reduce the loss of nurses, nurse assistants, and other health care workers, to devastating injuries which could be prevented by adoption of modern, safe, patient handling equipment.

If enacted, H.R. 2381 would also reduce adverse events to patients and residents, including pain, bruising, skin tears, abrasions, dislodgement of tubes, and being dropped by nursing staff during attempts to lift. Perhaps JCAHO will recognize the serious patient safety concern with manual lifting, that many skin tears, etc, could be prevented with implementation of gentle friction-reducing devices and safe lifting equipment, and will come on board to support H.R. 2381.

Encourage your members of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 2381, Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, by calling Representative Conyers at (202) 225-5126. Representative Conyers’ email is John.Conyers@mail.house.gov.

Our Journey toward National Safe Patient and Resident Handling

A bit of history on the journey toward a national mandate for safe patient handling: Representative John Conyers, Jr., (D-MI 14) first introduced HR 6182 “Nurse and Patient Safety and Protection Act of 2006” on September 26, 2006, to amend the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act of 1970 to reduce injuries to patients, nurses, and other health care providers with a safe patient handling standard.

Representative Conyers re-introduced the safe patient handling bill as HR 378 “Nurse and Patient Safety and Protection Act of 2007” on January 10, 2007. HR 378 would have established a safe patient handling standard requiring “elimination of manual lifting of patients by direct-care registered nurses and other health care providers, through the use of mechanical devices, except during a declared state of emergency.”

H.R. 378 was referred on May 9, 2007, to the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections. The bill was carried over into 2008 and gained the co-sponsorship on June 3, 2008, of U.S. Representative Joe Sestak, Democrat, Pennsylvania District 7, (202) 225-2011, but H.R. 378 languished in committee without a hearing.

Going Forward

It is exciting that our country continues moving toward nationwide implementation of modern safe methods of assisting dependent patients and residents with lifting and movement needs, to protect health care workers and dependent persons in their care against devastating injuries directly caused by manual lifting.

It is hoped that H.R. 2381 will be successfully enacted to mandate the use of safe patient lifting and movement equipment by nurses, nurse assistants, lift teams, and all other healthcare workers, for the elimination of manual lifting, apart from extraordinary exceptions mentioned in the bill “where the use of safe patient handling practices can be demonstrated to compromise patient care,” throughout American hospitals, nursing homes, home health care, and across other health care settings where dependent persons require help with lifting and moving.

H.R. 2381 will hopefully bring our country into line with other countries more advanced on safety with handling patients and residents, by adopting modern patient-lift equipment and friction-reducing devices as the standard for providing safe assistance with the lifting and movement needs of dependent persons across all health care settings. Enactment of H.R. 2381 would also support the belief that the health and safety of nurses, nurse assistants, and all health care workers is as important as that of patients and residents in their care.

For more information, or to express support of H.R. 2381, Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, for safe patient and resident handling, contact Mr. Joel Segal, Legislative Assistant on Health Policy to Representative Conyers, at (202) 225-5126 or Joel.Segal@mail.house.gov.

Encourage your members of Congress to call Representative Conyers at (202) 225-5126 about co-sponsoring H.R. 2381, Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009.

The complete text follows below of the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009, as introduced into the House of Representatives “H.R. 2381 I.H.”

You can link to H.R. 2381 through http://www.house.gov/, through http://thomas.loc.gov/home/c111query.html, or through http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-2381 for the bill’s text, status, and complete information.

The PDF of H.R. 2381 published by the Government Printing Office is at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h2381ih.txt.pdf.

Please share this info with all you’d like, but please credit “Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA.”

With thanks and best wishes to each of you…Anne


Anne Hudson, RN, BSN
May 20, 2009
Founder, Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA (WING USA)
Coos Bay, Oregon
anne@wingusa.org
www.wingusa.org

_______________________________________________________________


http://www.thomas.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.+2381



Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 (Introduced in House)

HR 2381 IH


111th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 2381


To direct the Secretary of Labor to issue an occupational safety and health standard to reduce injuries to patients, direct-care registered nurses, and all other health care workers by establishing a safe patient handling and injury prevention standard, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
May 13, 2009


Mr. CONYERS (for himself and Ms. WOOLSEY) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Education and Labor, and in addition to the Committees on Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL


To direct the Secretary of Labor to issue an occupational safety and health standard to reduce injuries to patients, direct-care registered nurses, and all other health care workers by establishing a safe patient handling and injury prevention standard, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; FINDINGS; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

(a) Short Title- This Act may be cited as the `Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009'.

(b) Findings- Congress finds the following:

(1) In 2007, direct-care registered nurses ranked seventh among all occupations for the number of cases of musculoskeletal disorders resulting in days away from work--8,580 total cases. Nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants sustained 24,340 musculoskeletal disorders in 2007, the second highest of any occupation. The leading cause of these injuries in health care are the result of patient lifting, transferring, and repositioning injuries.

(2) The physical demands of the nursing profession lead many nurses to leave the profession. Fifty-two percent of nurses complain of chronic back pain and 38 percent suffer from pain severe enough to require leave from work. Many nurses and other health care workers suffering back injury do not return to work.

(3) Patients are not at optimum levels of safety while being lifted, transferred, or repositioned manually. Mechanical lift programs can substantially reduce skin tears suffered by patients and the frequency of patients being dropped, thus allowing patients a safer means to progress through their care.

(4) The development of assistive patient handling equipment and devices has essentially rendered the act of strict manual patient handling unnecessary as a function of nursing care.

(5) A growing number of health care facilities have incorporated patient handling technology and have reported positive results. Injuries among nursing staff have dramatically declined since implementing patient handling equipment and devices. As a result, the number of lost work days due to injury and staff turnover has declined. Studies have also shown that assistive patient handling technology successfully reduces workers' compensation costs for musculoskeletal disorders.

(6) Establishing a safe patient handling and injury prevention standard for direct-care registered nurses and other health care workers is a critical component in protecting nurses and other health care workers, addressing the nursing shortage, and increasing patient safety.

(c) Table of Contents- The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; findings; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Safe patient handling and injury prevention standard.

Sec. 3. Protection of direct-care registered nurses and health care workers.

Sec. 4. Application of safe patient handling and injury prevention standard to health care facilities not covered by OSHA.

Sec. 5. Financial assistance to needy health care facilities in the purchase of safe patient handling and injury prevention equipment.

Sec. 6. Definitions.

SEC. 2. SAFE PATIENT HANDLING AND INJURY PREVENTION STANDARD.

(a) Rulemaking- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Labor, shall, pursuant to section 6 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 655), propose a standard on safe patient handling and injury prevention (in this section such standard referred to as the `safe patient handling and injury prevention standard') under such section to prevent musculoskeletal disorders for direct-care registered nurses and all other health care workers handling patients in health care facilities. A final safe patient handling and injury prevention standard shall be promulgated not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(b) Requirements- The safe patient handling and injury prevention standard shall require the use of engineering controls to perform lifting, transferring, and repositioning of patients and the elimination of manual lifting of patients by direct-care registered nurses and all other health care workers, through the use of mechanical devices to the greatest degree feasible except where the use of safe patient handling practices can be demonstrated to compromise patient care. The standard shall apply to all health care employers and shall require at least the following:

(1) Each health care employer to develop and implement a safe patient handling and injury prevention plan within 6 months of the date of promulgation of the final standard, which plan shall include hazard identification, risk assessments, and control measures in relation to patient care duties and patient handling.

(2) Each health care employer to purchase, use, maintain, and have accessible an adequate number of safe lift mechanical devices not later than 2 years after the date of issuance of a final regulation establishing such standard.

(3) Each health care employer to obtain input from direct-care registered nurses, health care workers, and employee representatives of direct-care registered nurses and health care workers in developing and implementing the safe patient handling and injury prevention plan, including the purchase of equipment.

(4) Each health care employer to establish and maintain a data system that tracks and analyzes trends in injuries relating to the application of the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard and to make such data and analyses available to employees and employee representatives.

(5) Each health care employer to establish a system to document in each instance when safe patient handling equipment was not utilized due to legitimate concerns about patient care and to generate a written report in each such instance. The report shall list the following:

(A) The work task being performed.

(B) The reason why safe patient handling equipment was not used.

(C) The nature of the risk posed to the worker from manual lifting.

(D) The steps taken by management to reduce the likelihood of manual lifting and transferring when performing similar work tasks in the future.

Such reports shall be made available to OSHA compliance officers, workers, and their representatives upon request within one business day.

(6) Each health care employer to train nurses and other health care workers on safe patient handling and injury prevention policies, equipment, and devices at least on an annual basis. Such training shall include providing information on hazard identification, assessment, and control of musculoskeletal hazards in patient care areas and shall be conducted by an individual with knowledge in the subject matter, and delivered, at least in part, in an interactive classroom-based and hands-on format.

(7) Each health care employer to post a uniform notice in a form specified by the Secretary that--

(A) explains the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard;

(B) includes information regarding safe patient handling and injury prevention policies and training; and

(C) explains procedures to report patient handling-related injuries.

(8) Each health care employer to conduct an annual written evaluation of the implementation of the safe patient handling and injury prevention plan, including handling procedures, selection of equipment and engineering controls, assessment of injuries, and new safe patient handling and injury prevention technology and devices that have been developed. The evaluation shall be conducted with the involvement of nurses, other health care workers, and their representatives and shall be documented in writing. Health care employers shall take corrective action as recommended in the written evaluation.

(c) Inspections- The Secretary of Labor shall conduct unscheduled inspections under section 8 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 657) to ensure implementation of and compliance with the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard.

SEC. 3. PROTECTION OF DIRECT-CARE REGISTERED NURSES AND HEALTH CARE WORKERS.

(a) Refusal of Assignment- The Secretary shall ensure that a direct-care registered nurse or other health care worker may refuse to accept an assignment from a health care employer if--

(1) the assignment would subject the worker to conditions that would violate the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard; or

(2) the nurse or worker has not received training described in section 2(a)(5) that meets such standard.

(b) Retaliation for Refusal of Lifting Assignment Barred-

(1) NO DISCHARGE, DISCRIMINATION, OR RETALIATION- No health care employer shall discharge, discriminate, or retaliate in any manner with respect to any aspect of employment, including discharge, promotion, compensation, or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, against a direct-care registered nurse or other health care worker based on the nurse's or worker's refusal of a lifting assignment under subsection (a).

(2) NO FILING OF COMPLAINT- No health care employer shall file a complaint or a report against a direct-care registered nurse or other health care worker with the appropriate State professional disciplinary agency because of the nurse's or worker's refusal of a lifting assignment under subsection (a).

(c) Whistleblower Protection-

(1) RETALIATION BARRED- A health care employer shall not discriminate or retaliate in any manner with respect to any aspect of employment, including hiring, discharge, promotion, compensation, or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment against any nurse or health care worker who in good faith, individually or in conjunction with another person or persons--

(A) reports a violation or a suspected violation of this Act or the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard to the Secretary of Labor, a public regulatory agency, a private accreditation body, or the management personnel of the health care employer;

(B) initiates, cooperates, or otherwise participates in an investigation or proceeding brought by the Secretary, a public regulatory agency, or a private accreditation body concerning matters covered by this Act; or

(C) informs or discusses with other individuals or with representatives of health care employees a violation or suspected violation of this Act.

(2) GOOD FAITH DEFINED- For purposes of this subsection, an individual shall be deemed to be acting in good faith if the individual reasonably believes--

(A) the information reported or disclosed is true; and

(B) a violation of this Act or the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard has occurred or may occur.

(d) Complaint to Secretary-

(1) FILING- A direct-care registered nurse, health care worker, or other individual may file a complaint with the Secretary of Labor against a health care employer that violates this section within 180 days of the date of the violation.

(2) RESPONSE TO COMPLAINT- For any complaint so filed, the Secretary shall--

(A) receive and investigate the complaint;

(B) determine whether a violation of this Act as alleged in the complaint has occurred; and

(C) if such a violation has occurred, issue an order that sets forth the violation and the required remedy or remedies.

(3) REMEDIES- The Secretary shall have the authority to order all appropriate remedies for such violations.

(e) Cause of Action- Any direct-care registered nurse or other health care worker who has been discharged, discriminated, or retaliated against in violation of this section may bring a cause of action in a United States district court. A direct-care registered nurse or other health care worker who prevails on the cause of action shall be entitled to the following:

(1) Reinstatement, reimbursement of lost wages, compensation, and benefits.

(2) Attorneys' fees.

(3) Court costs.

(4) Other damages.

(f) Notice- A health care employer shall include in the notice required under section 2(b)(7) an explanation of the rights of direct-care registered nurses and health care workers under this section and a statement that a direct-care registered nurse or health care worker may file a complaint with the Secretary against a health care employer that violates the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard, including instructions for how to file such a complaint.

(g) Addition to Current Protections- The worker protections provided for under this section are in addition to protections provided in section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (29 U.S.C. 660(c)).

SEC. 4. APPLICATION OF SAFE PATIENT HANDLING AND INJURY PREVENTION STANDARD TO HEALTH CARE FACILITIES NOT COVERED BY OSHA.

(a) In General- Section 1866 of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395cc) is amended--

(1) in subsection (a)(1)(V), by inserting `and safe patient handling and injury prevention standard (as initially promulgated under section 2 of the Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009)' before the period at the end; and

(2) in subsection (b)(4)--

(A) in subparagraph (A), inserting `and the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard' after `Bloodborne Pathogens standard'; and

(B) in subparagraph (B), inserting `or the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard' after `Bloodborne Pathogens standard'.

(b) Effective Date- The amendments made by subsection (a) shall apply to health care facilities 1 year after date of issuance of the final safe patient handling and injury prevention standard required under section 2.

SEC. 5. FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO NEEDY HEALTH CARE FACILITIES IN THE PURCHASE OF SAFE PATIENT HANDLING AND INJURY PREVENTION EQUIPMENT.

(a) In General- The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall establish a grant program that provides financial assistance to cover some or all of the costs of purchasing safe patient handling and injury prevention equipment for health care facilities, such as hospitals, nursing facilities, home health care, and outpatient facilities, that--

(1) require the use of such equipment in order to comply with the safe patient handling and injury prevention standard; but

(2) demonstrate the financial need for assistance for purchasing the equipment required under such standard.

(b) Application- No financial assistance shall be provided under this section except pursuant to an application made to the Secretary of Health and Human Services in such form and manner as the Secretary shall specify.

(c) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated for financial assistance under this section $200,000,000, of which $50,000,000 will be available specifically for home health agencies or entities. Funds appropriated under this subsection shall remain available until expended.

SEC. 6. DEFINITIONS.

For purposes of this Act:

(1) DIRECT-CARE REGISTERED NURSE - The term `direct-care registered nurse' means an individual who has been granted a license by at least one State to practice as a registered nurse and who provides bedside care or outpatient services for one or more patients or residents.

(2) HEALTH CARE WORKER - The term `health care worker' means an individual who has been assigned to lift, reposition, or move patients or residents in a health care facility.

(3) EMPLOYMENT- The term `employment' includes the provision of services under a contract or other arrangement.

(4) HEALTH CARE EMPLOYER - The term `health care employer' means an outpatient health care facility, hospital, nursing home, home health care agency, hospice, federally qualified health center, nurse managed health center, rural health clinic, or any similar health care facility that employs direct-care registered nurses or other health care workers.


WING USA Legislative Update March 22, 2009
National Bill for Safe Patient Handling to be Reintroduced

Great news, Friends! The office of U.S. Representative John Conyers, Jr., (Democrat, Michigan District 14) reports that the national bill for the safe handling of healthcare patients and residents is to be re-introduced.

Formerly known as HR 378, “Nurse and Patient Safety and Protection Act,” the new bill will have a different number, and will likely have a different title. Following discussions among key stake holders on changes in wording from the previous bill, the new bill for safe patient handling is expected to be introduced within a matter of weeks.

Though wording of the new bill is not yet known, it is hoped that this new bill will help bring America into the modern era of safety with patient handling by transferring hazardous loads from the backs of healthcare workers to modern patient lifting equipment.

For more information, or to express support of the new bill for safe patient handling which is to be introduced, contact Representative Conyers’ Legislative Assistant on Health Policy, Mr. Joel Segal, at (202) 225-5126 or Joel.Segal@mail.house.gov.

Legislators who wish to co-sponsor the anticipated new bill for the safe handling of patients and residents should call Representative Conyers at (202) 225-5126. Representative Conyers’ email is John.Conyers@mail.house.gov.

Anne Hudson, RN, BSN
March 22, 2009
Founder, Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA (WING USA)
Coos Bay, Oregon
anne@wingusa.org
www.wingusa.org


Greetings WING USA,  NurseWeek has graciously granted permission to forward their "Five Minutes With" interview by Don Vaughan, June 19, 2006, titled "Anne Hudson, RN, On 'No Lift' Legislation" (following below) with the link to NurseWeek's website. 
 
The website is http://www.nurseweek.com/ and the article can be accessed by clicking on "Read current NurseWeek magazine articles"  Then click "California Edition" or "Mountain West Edition."  Then scroll down and click the article title (as more recent editions are published, you will need to click the "older" button and then click the article title) which links to this page: http://www2.nurseweek.com/Articles/article.cfm?AID=22082 (NurseWeek California Edition). 
 
NurseWeek California and NurseWeek Mountain West Editions both carried the interview article, as well as the "Up Front" editorial "Backing Up Nurses" by Judith Berg, RN, MS, CHE, Vice President of Professional and Editorial Services of NurseWeek Mountain West, and also the cover story "Watching Our Backs" by Phil McPeck which features nurses passionate about successful programs for preventing nurse injury caused by patient lifting. 
 
NurseWeek California's cover story, "Watching Our Backs - RNs Get a Lift from 'No Lift' Policies," features Washington State's new law mandating patient lift equipment in all hospitals.  "['No Lift'] is where all of nursing is headed, says Kim Armstrong, RN, president of the Washington State Nurses Association.  'It has to go to no lift because so many people in the health profession - aides, orderlies and RNs included - are receiving lifetime injuries,' she says."
 
In the editorial "Backing Up Nurses," Judith Berg reports that 35 years of research have proven that training in body mechanics, safe lifting techniques, and back belts are not effective in reducing injuries with patient lifting.  She says, "...health care facilities need to stop using outdated approaches and replace them with evidence-based strategies." 
 
Much gratitude to NurseWeek for extensive coverage of the ready solutions to devastating musculoskeletal injuries caused by manual patient lifting and for publishing Don Vaughan's interview of myself highlighting the need for federal legislation requiring the healthcare industry to practice safe patient handling with mechanical lift equipment instead of with the backs of nurses and other healthcare workers.  
 
A note about the photo in the article:  Credit to Elizabeth Langford, AM, RN, RM, BN, Grad. Dip. (Adv. Nsg), Coordinator of the Injured Nurses Support Group in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, who took the photo when I spoke at the Australian Nursing Federation Victorian Branch "No Lifting Expo," on November 23, 2005.  Elizabeth Langford and I are international counterparts in working toward nurse injury prevention and as advocates for injured nurses. 
 
Please see Don Vaughan's interview, "Anne Hudson, RN - On 'No Lift' Legislation," following and at http://www.nurseweek.com
 
Best wishes to each of you...Anne
 
Anne Hudson, RN, BSN
anne@wingusa.org
www.wingusa.org  Work Injured Nurses' Group USA
July 4, 2006
 
 
"Anne Hudson, RN - On 'No Lift' Legislation."  Don Vaughn.  June 19, 2006.  Five Minutes With.  NurseWeek Mountain West Edition.  7(13), 12.  Online: http://www.nurseweek.com/.  Then, http://www2.nurseweek.com/Articles/article.cfm?AID=22150 (Mt W) and http://www2.nurseweek.com/Articles/article.cfm?AID=22082 (CA).
 

Anne Hudson, RN — On “No Lift” Legislation
By Don Vaughan
June 19, 2006

Photo by Elizabeth Langford

Anne Hudson, RN, BSN, of Coos Bay, Ore., knows firsthand the debilitating musculoskeletal injuries that can afflict nurses who are required to manually lift patients. Following a painful back injury in 2000, she started a website called B.I.N. There – Back-Injured Nurses, which was later renamed the Work Injured Nurses’ Group USA.
 
In the years since, Hudson, who is now a public health nurse, has become a vocal proponent of state and federal “safe patient handling – no manual lift” legislation, and lectures often on the hazards of manual lifting and the financial/workforce rewards that can result from the use of patient-lift equipment.                        
                                                                                                                
Q How did you become involved with the issue of “no lift” legislation?
 
All health care workers combined suffer more musculoskeletal injuries than any other occupation in America — with back injury from lifting patients removing more nurses from the bedside than any other kind of injury.  I discovered that even though research shows that manual patient lifting cannot be done safely, and that modern patient-lift equipment prevents injuries, many nursing schools still teach manual lifting and many hospitals and nursing homes do not provide safe lift equipment.
 
Even though the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1970 General Duty clause states that all workplaces are to be “ … free from recognized hazards that are causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm,” many facilities still [require nurses to manually lift patients.]
 
Q What exactly is “no lift” legislation?  What is your organization trying to achieve nationally and worldwide?
 
A comprehensive national “safe patient handling – no manual lift” law would require mechanical lifting equipment and friction-reducing devices for all health care workers, patients, and residents across all health care settings.  There simply is no such thing as safe manual patient lifting, for either nursing staff or for patients, who may suffer pain, skin tears, abrasions, bruising, dislocations, fractures, tube dislodgement, and being dropped.
 
Q Tell us about your own experiences with patient-lift issues.
 
As a hospital floor nurse, I felt strong and healthy.  I lifted and moved patients manually throughout every shift as I had been taught in nursing school and as practiced throughout the hospital.  I was happy to assist other nurses with their patients, as well.  I naively believed that hospitals would help nurses injured in their service to remain with them.  Because the handling of injured employees was never discussed at any nurse bargaining unit meetings or hospital employee meetings, nurses were generally unaware of what to expect from the workers’ compensation system if they became disabled by lifting.
 
Additionally, nurses were never taught how microfractures occur to spinal discs and vertebral endplates over time from repetitively lifting hazardous amounts of weight.  Because there are no pain receptors in the center of discs and in the vertebral endplates, microfractures may occur without pain until sudden extreme pain announces a severe spinal injury and the potential end of a nurse’s career.
 
Q How close are we to the passage of national “no lift” legislation?
 
I believe that as more states introduce and pass legislation for safe patient handling, momentum will build, leading quickly to a national “no manual lift for health care” standard.  With many dedicated people working toward this end, with the safety of patients and residents at risk, and with the country’s limited supply of nurses and other health care workers jeopardized by current dangerous manual lifting practices, I believe there are no barriers which cannot be overcome to achieve national legislation.
 
Q What is your organization doing to make nurses and others aware of this issue?
 
I continue speaking and writing about the danger of manual patient lifting to help get the word out.  I believe it is especially important to teach nurses how and why insidious damage occurs to spinal structures from repetitively lifting hazardous amounts of weight.  Nurses who understand how spinal damage may occur over time without pain until the injury is severe often become champions for “no lift” policies with use of lift equipment.
 
Q What can nurses do to promote the passage of “no lift” legislation in their states?
 
They need to lobby their state legislators to introduce a “safe patient handling – no manual lift” bill. Wording for draft legislation may be patterned after states that have passed and that have introduced legislation, building upon the best language from each state.
 
Additionally, lobbying insurance companies for coverage of lift equipment for home use, including overhead ceiling lift systems, is essential to help dependent persons remain in their homes and to prevent injuries to family members and home care workers who assist with lifting and movement. The primary reason people move to long-term care facilities is inability of family members to lift and move them. Insurance companies should assist dependent persons to remain at home.
 

 
Don Vaughan is a freelance writer for NurseWeek. To comment on this story, send e-mail to editorca@nurseweek.com.
 
Copyright 2006. Nursing Spectrum Nurse Wire (www.nursingspectrum.com).  All rights reserved. Used with permission.
 


Anne Hudson speaks at ANF Victorian Branch
"No Lifting Expo"

Anne Hudson was keynote speaker for the Australian Nursing Federation Victorian Branch "No Lifting Expo" held November 23, 2005, in Melbourne, Victoria.  Anne also spoke for the Injured Nurses Support Group (INSG) on November 24, 2005.  Anne, standing sixth from left, with members of INSG and with INSG coordinator Elizabeth Langford, seated first on left. 


"I would like to increase awareness of the high risk of back injuries with manual patient lifting still required in many areas and of safe patient handling methods proven to prevent injuries. It is not necessary for nurses to risk disabling spinal injuries and loss of career every day on the job."

Speaking for injured nurses and
those who wish to avoid injury -
Anne Hudson, RN, BSN, BIN - Back Injured Nurse


This site is under construction. More information will be added soon.
Please contact Anne at anne@wingusa.org with any questions
or suggestions you might have.

Back Injury among Healthcare Workers

William Charney
and Anne Hudson's
definitive book:

More info


"Featured Feedback
Quote" from
Book Feedback Page:
 
 
“The standard reply about nurse injury is ‘We budgeted for it.’  We’ve become insensitive to people’s lives and bodies and careers over money.”  4-16-07