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Patient Safety: Pay Now or Pay Later

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, July 2, 2013

Some hospitals believe they can't afford investing in assistive technologies that improve patient safety and protect nurses from injury. Can they afford not to?

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."

That saying, generally attributed to former Harvard president Derek Bok, comes to mind when I think about how some hospitals view spending on tools for safe patient handling.

Technology, such as ceiling lifts, to assist in moving, lifting, and repositioning patients can prevent injuries among nursing staff and enhance the patient experience, yet some hospitals are reluctant to implement them.

The American Nurses Association contends the investment is well worth it.

Nurse safety was identified as one of the top five nursing issues for 2013 and ANA president Karen Daley told me back in January that the association was leading the way in developing national interdisciplinary standards for safe-patient handling. True to her word, they were released last week.

Suzy Harrington, DNP, RN, MCHES, the director of the ANA's Department of Health, Safety and Wellness, who moderated a conference call previewing the standards, hinted that the voluntary standards might soon have some teeth, saying, "We are anticipating some national legislation based on these standards very soon by congressman John Conyers (D-MI)."

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