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Failing to protect nurses’ backs will cost hospitals $$$

A good news follow-up on my February post that focused on nurses’ on-the-job injuries.

osha2In a news release on healthcare inspections last week, OSHA put hospitals and nursing homes on notice. Inspectors will add new enforcement on some key hazards for healthcare workers, including musculoskeletal disorders, bloodborne pathogens, workplace violence, tuberculosis and slips, trips, and falls. Hospitals will be penalized for gaps in training, use of assistive devices, and low quality treatment for staff who move patients.

Evidently, OSHA was inspired by the NPR [more]

Injured Nurses, Part 2: OSHA has your back

Attention nurse leaders in organizations
without designated “lift teams” or assistive
devices for moving patients

Your business case for investing in a cutting-edge, osha2safe patient handling program has been made clearly and indisputably by OSHA, with the help of results from numerous case studies, research reports, and collected data. The benefits are exceptional, and the financial ROI is achievable in one to four years.

Take a quick trip to the OSHA website for wealth of tools, including a form you can use to evaluate your organization, a checklist for designing your safe patient handling program, illustrative case studies, and more.

One more note: NPR plans a fourth installment on the Injured Nurses series, so keep checking the NPR website. Here’s what they’re promising:

Part 4 will explore how the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented
a nationwide $200 million program to prevent nursing employees
from getting injured when they move and lift patients.

And, finally, I’ve uploaded the PDF of Table 18 (promised in my previous post), which you can download from our Tools Library.

Injured Nurses: Who has your back?

In 2013 your nursing staff faced a
15% greater chance of spine injury
than firefighters.

Check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Table 18 for the spine injury picfinal tabulated 2013 rates of musculoskeletal injuries for FT workers, compared by occupation. Firefighters—who lug heavy ladders, people, and equipment daily—had a rate of 232 per 10,000. For nursing staff, the total was 264 per 10,000 full-time RNs and nursing assistants. A spine injury can end a career in the blink of an eye. But how can these injuries be prevented?

Your mother’s admonition to “bend your knees” while lifting something heavy may not be enough to protect the backs of your nursing staff. In an ongoing article series entitled Injured Nurses, NPR takes a look at what can happen when nurses depend solely on proper body mechanics (essentially, keeping your back straight while following mom’s advice) for moving patients. As of this writing, you’ll find three installments on NPR.org that explore the problem, possible solutions, and how some hospitals may or may not “have your back.”

On a positive note, the Baptist Health System reports that the Transfer and Lift with Care program it introduced in 2007 has reduced patient-handling injuries in their organization by 81%. One important factor in their success? Investing in assistive equipment and devices in each of its five hospitals.

If I can get specific statistics and practices from Baptist, I’ll post them here for you to share with your peers and hospital administrators. I’ll also post a link to a PDF of Table 18, which should be a little easier on the eyes than the official version.

In the meanwhile, if you’d like to share ways your organization has your back, feel free to comment below.


 

UPDATE> 4/4/2015. Here’s a highlighted section of Table 18, with the RN/nursing assistant and firefighter statistics highlighted.table excerpt