State laws Injury prevention Musculoskeletal disorders Health care/social assistance

California establishes new rules on safe patient lifting

Sacramento, CA – New regulations in California will require certain hospitals to implement a safe patient-handling policy that uses devices and lifting teams to move patients, potentially improving the safety of patients, nurses and other staff.

Effective Oct. 1, all general acute care hospitals in the state must replace manual lifting with powered transfer devices, lifting devices and lift teams appropriate for the patient. The lift teams will be hospital employees trained to move patients.

The Hospital Patient and Health Care Worker Injury Protection Act (AB 1136), signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2011, directed the state to establish the rules.

Under the new regulations, hospitals must adopt a plan for patient protection and prevention of health care worker back and musculoskeletal injuries. Hospitals also will be required to provide training to health care workers on using lifting equipment, and a health care worker who refuses to lift a patient due to safety concerns will not be subject to disciplinary action.

The California Nurses Association, which sponsored the bill, applauded the new rules.