A safer work environment for professionals in travel nursing

There are some new guidelines to be aware of as a travel nurse. The American Nurses Association recently released new standards for safe patient handling. As a healthcare professional, you have your patients' best interests in mind at all times. Working with these new guidelines will help you to ensure that continue to do so while also growing professionally.

These standards were developed by industry experts, including nurses, occupational and physical therapists, risk management specialists and safety and ergonomics experts. Together, these individuals worked to come up with guidelines that aim toward helping reduce the number of injuries caused by improper or poor patient handling in healthcare facilities.

"Safe patient handling and mobility requires a culture of safety as the standard way of doing business," Dr. Karen Daley, president of ANA, said in a statement. "This is not optional, especially when our patient population is getting heavier. It is not acceptable to continue unsafe practices that cause worker and patient injuries and diminished quality of care."

Eight principles
In order to improve the safety of patient handling, experts came up with eight principles you will want to be aware of while working in travel nursing jobs. These include:

  1. Establishing a culture of safety
  2. Creating a sustainable program
  3. Incorporating ergonomic design principles
  4. Developing a technology plan
  5. Educating and training healthcare workers
  6. Assessing patients to plan care for their individual needs
  7. Setting reasonable accommodations for employee's return to work post-injury
  8. Implementing a comprehensive evaluation system

As you see, the guidelines focus on more than just providing technology to nursing staff. It's also important that healthcare workers have the necessary help for getting their job done properly and effectively.

According to Nurse.com, the ANA started an initiative for eliminating manual patient handling years ago. However, there has not been a set of guidelines on this subject that is recognized by the government. Although some states have previously set their own regulations, there was no consistency across the country. With these new ANA guidelines for safe patient handling, the organization hopes to improve the quality of care patients receive. In addition to helping patients, the ANA hopes to improve the well-being of nursing professionals.

Benefits to nurses
A recent study conducted by ANA regarding the health and safety of nursing professionals shows just how much nurses have been dealing with on the job. Of the more than 4,600 participants, 62 percent were found to be suffering from an injury. More than half of those in pain indicated that the levels increased while working. However, most did not let this interfere with their work ethic – 80 percent worked despite the pain. The results also showed that 10 percent of the nurses suffered an on-the-job injury three or more times over a 12-month period.

Oftentimes, this is the result of a nurse having the proper training to complete required tasks, but not the necessary assistance. For instance, Virginia Gillispie experienced a cumulative spinal trauma when lifting and moving patients at a healthcare facility early in her career as a nurse.

"My injuries from that time still impact my life today," Gillispie said in a statement, "I want to ensure that the current health care workers do not suffer the same fate."

This is why ANA's new guidelines include principles such as "establishing a culture of safety." Travel nursing professionals need to feel comfortable asking for assistance when working with patients. It's equally important that your colleagues are prepared to offer help when asked. With these standards, healthcare professionals are hopeful that the number of employee and patient injuries will be reduced. To learn more about the specifics, checkout a copy of "National Interdisciplinary SPHM Standards".