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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

SILVER SPRING, Md., Oct. 15 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A new Senate bill introduced today by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) will not only protect the health and well-being of RNs in hospitals and other health care facilities, but also will ensure patients get the care they need, are transported and moved in the safest way possible, all while improving the bottom line for health care facilities by decreasing work injuries, said leaders of the United American Nurses, AFL-CIO and the Minnesota Nurses Association.

The Nurse and Health Care Worker Protection Act of 2009 (S. 1788) requires OSHA to develop and implement a standard to 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 also requires health care facilities to develop a plan to comply with the standard (with input from RNs), provides protection for RNs through refusal of assignment and whistleblower provisions and requires the Secretary of Labor to perform audits.

MNA and UAN nurses have worked closely with Sen. Franken to provide RN perspective on this critical bill and are optimistic about passage of the legislation and subsequent approval by President Obama. The bill is a companion measure to H.R. 2381, introduced this session into the House of Representatives by Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.).

MNA Health and Safety Specialist, Bettye Shogren, RN, hailed Franken's initiative, saying: "In developing and successfully passing the Minnesota legislation we understood that we had the opportunity to do something which would significantly improve the health and safety of healthcare workers in this state, as well as make care safer and more accessible for the residents of Minnesota. Now we have this same opportunity for the nation."

"We applaud Sen. Franken for taking this important step to stand up for the health of nurses and our patients, and he has our full support as we work to pass this bill into law. There is no reason why an RN should have to accept a lifetime of injury or chronic pain as part of his or her job," said UAN President Ann Converso, RN.

Direct care RNs get injured at a higher rate than laborers, movers and truck drivers from repositioning, moving and lifting patients, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Work-related lifting injuries in turn lead many nurses to leave the profession, with more than half of all nurses complaining of chronic back pain and 38 percent suffering from pain severe enough to require leave from work. A 2006 study by Audrey Nelson et al. found that overall medical treatment costs for nursing staff fell by 48 percent over the 18 months prior to and following the introduction of a safe patient handling program in seven facilities.

The Minnesota Nurses Association is the largest and fastest-growing union for registered nurses in Minnesota and the Midwest. Representing more than 20,000 nurses, MNA is a multi-purpose organization that promotes high standards for nursing education and practice, and works to advance the profession through collective bargaining and legislative activity.

The United American Nurses, AFL-CIO, represents nurses across the country in state nurses associations, collective bargaining programs and independent unions, uniting to work for change on the issues important to staff RNs.

SOURCE United American Nurses, AFL-CIO

SOURCE United American Nurses, AFL-CIO
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