Health and Safety
Licensing of Health Care Facilities
§ 23-17-59 Safe patient handling.
(a) Definitions. As used in this chapter:
(1) "Safe patient handling" means the use of engineering
controls, transfer aids, or assistive devices whenever feasible and appropriate
instead of manual lifting to perform the acts of lifting, transferring, and/or
repositioning health care patients and residents.
(2) "Safe patient handling policy" means protocols
established to implement safe patient handling.
(3) "Health care facility" means a hospital or a nursing
(4) "Lift team" means health care facility employees
specially trained to perform patient lifts, transfers, and repositioning in
accordance with safe patient handling policy.
(5) "Musculoskeletal disorders" means conditions that involve
the nerves, tendons, muscles, and supporting structures of the body.
(b) Licensure requirements. Each licensed health care
facility shall comply with the following as a condition of licensure:
(1) Each licensed health care facility shall establish a safe
patient handling committee, which shall be chaired by a professional nurse or
other appropriate licensed health care professional. A health care facility may
utilize any appropriately configured committee to perform the responsibilities
of this section. At least half of the members of the committee shall be hourly,
non-managerial employees who provide direct patient care.
(2) By July 1, 2007, each licensed health care facility shall
develop a written safe patient handling program, with input from the safe
patient handling committee, to prevent musculoskeletal disorders among health
care workers and injuries to patients. As part of this program, each licensed
health care facility shall:
(i) By July 1, 2008, implement a safe patient handling policy
for all shifts and units of the facility that will achieve the maximum
reasonable reduction of manual lifting, transferring, and repositioning of all
or most of a patient's weight, except in emergency, life-threatening, or
otherwise exceptional circumstances;
(ii) Conduct a patient handling hazard assessment. This
assessment should consider such variables as patient-handling tasks, types of
nursing units, patient populations, and the physical environment of patient
(iii) Develop a process to identify the appropriate use of
the safe patient handling policy based on the patient's physical and mental
condition, the patient's choice, and the availability of lifting equipment or
lift teams. The policy shall include a means to address circumstances under
which it would be medically contraindicated to use lifting or transfer aids or
assistive devices for particular patients;
(iv) Designate and train a registered nurse or other
appropriate licensed health care professional to serve as an expert resource,
and train all clinical staff on safe patient handling policies, equipment, and
devices before implementation, and at least annually or as changes are made to
the safe patient handling policies, equipment and/or devices being used;
(v) Conduct an annual performance evaluation of the safe
patient handling with the results of the evaluation reported to the safe
patient handling committee or other appropriately designated committee. The
evaluation shall determine the extent to which implementation of the program
has resulted in a reduction in musculoskeletal disorder claims and days of lost
work attributable to musculoskeletal disorder caused by patient handling, and
include recommendations to increase the program's effectiveness; and
(vi) Submit an annual report to the safe patient handling
committee of the facility, which shall be made available to the public upon
request, on activities related to the identification, assessment, development,
and evaluation of strategies to control risk of injury to patients, nurses and
other health care workers associated with the lifting, transferring,
repositioning, or movement of a patient.
(3) Nothing in this section precludes lift team members from
performing other duties as assigned during their shift.
(4) An employee may, in accordance with established facility
protocols, report to the committee, as soon as possible, after being required
to perform a patient handling activity that he/she believes in good faith
exposed the patient and/or employee to an unacceptable risk of injury. Such
employee reporting shall not be cause for discipline or be subject to other
adverse consequences by his/her employer. These reportable incidents shall be
included in the facility's annual performance evaluation.
History of Section.
(P.L. 2006, ch. 353, § 2; P.L. 2006, ch. 463, § 2; P.L. 2008, ch.
475, § 48.)