The State of Texas has passed TX SB 1525, the first state legislation signed into law requiring hospitals and nursing homes to implement a safe patient handling and movement program. The legislation was signed by Texas Governor Rick Perry June 17, 2005, and will take effect January 1, 2006.
Anne Hudson of the Work Injured Nurses Group USA (WING USA) reports that the bill passed unanimously in the House and with only one dissenting vote in the Senate.
The law requires hospitals and nursing homes to adopt a policy "to identify, assess, and develop strategies to control risk of injury to patients and nurses
associated with the lifting, transferring, repositioning, or movement of a patient."
The policy must include "an evaluation of alternative ways to reduce risks associated with patient handling, including evaluation of equipment and the environment" and "restriction, to the extent feasible with existing equipment and aids, of manual patient handling or movement of all or most of a patient's weight to emergency, life-threatening, or otherwise exceptional circumstances."
Most significantly, the law requires the plan to include "procedures for nurses to refuse to perform or be involved in patient handling or movement that the nurse believes in good faith will expose a patient or a nurse to an unacceptable risk of injury."
If this law is actually enforced on the hospital and nursing home floor, it means a significant advance in protecting the health of Texas nurses. The bill has been a major priority of the Texas Nurses Association.
And, as Anne says:
With Texas the first state to succeed with passage of legislation, a number of other states continue working toward legislative protection of healthcare workers against preventable injury from manual patient lifting.
Eventually, all of the United States will mandate safe patient handling practices like those already in place in countries more advanced in protecting nurses and patients against injury from manual lifting.