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Patient Care Ergonomics Resource Guide: Safe Patient Handling ...

Patient Care Ergonomics Resource Guide: Safe Patient Handling ...


Patient Care Ergonomics Resource Guide: Safe Patient Handling & Movement Department of Veterans Affairs 4

Background Department of Veterans Affairs ��Introduction Chapter 2 – Background Many organizations are spending much time and effort on back injury prevention programs with little resulting improvement. With some guidance, injury prevention efforts could be directed to best utilize existing resources. The focus of this chapter is to 1) describe the magnitude of the problem of musculoskeletal injuries in nursing, 2) describe common myths and facts related to strategies to improve safety in performing patient handling tasks, and 3) summarize successful case studies. This chapter presents a brief summary of lessons learned from other facilities while attempting to reduce the risk to caregivers during patient handling and movement tasks. ��Background The health care industry is gradually accepting the reality that manually lifting and transferring dependent patients are high-risk activities, both for the health care worker and the patient being transferred. Nursing staffs have one of the highest incidences of work-related back problems of all occupations (Cust, Pearson, & Mair, 1972; Magora, 1970). The incidence rates continue to climb; from 1980 to 1990 incidences of back injuries have increased over 40% (Fragala, 1992). Direct and indirect costs associated with back injuries are estimated to be between $24 billion and $64 billion annually, with $20 billion of that attributed to the health care industry (Fragala, 1992; Fragala, 1993; Garrett, 1992; Williamson, et al., 1988). Over three quarters of a million working days are lost annually as a result of back injuries in nursing (Stubbs, Buckle, Hudson, & Rivers, 1983a), with an estimated 40,000 nurses reporting illnesses from back pain each year (Garrett, 1992). Preventive interventions are critically needed to control the hazards and economic burdens associated with patient handling tasks (Genaidy, Davis, Delgado, Garcia, & Al-Herzalla, 1994). Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a high number of strains and sprains reported by nursing staff. The back is the body part that is most frequently injured and the patient is the major source of injury for these same occupational groups. Information recently released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for 1999 reported 271,000 occupational injuries suffered by hospital workers and 188,600 occupational injuries suffered by workers in nursing and personal care facilities (U.S. Department of Labor, 2001). Nursing injuries represented 30% of all injured VHA workers in 2000, more than six times as frequent as any other single occupational group. Job-related injuries that occurred during the performance of patient care activities cost the VHA over $23 million in the year 2000. Approximately 31% of injuries to nurses consisted of upper extremity injuries 25.5%, back injuries; and 19.1%, lower extremity injuries (Biomechanics Research Lab (BRL)). The vast majority of these injuries were related to patient transfer and repositioning tasks. Back injuries, although not the most 5

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