Manual patient handling sometimes leads to worker injuries

Dec 12 2014

Sometimes, in relation to their care, a patient of a hospital or nursing home needs to be moved or repositioned. Often, such patient moving/repositioning is, at least in part, performed manually by a nurse or some other health care worker.

Sadly, such manual patient handling sometimes results in the health care workers who are performing it suffering injuries. Manual patient handling is considered to be the biggest risk factor for health care workers when it comes to one particular class of injuries: overexertion injuries. Some examples of overexertion injuries include back pain and general musculoskeletal pain.

One wonders if this is a contributing factor behind the fact that workplace overexertion injuries are much more common for nursing home workers and hospital workers than they are for the average worker here in the United States. According to federal data regarding the year 2011, the rate for overexertion injuries was 132 per 10,000 full-time workers among nursing home workers and 76 per 10,000 full-time workers among hospital workers that year. Both of these rates are significantly higher than the rate for workers in all industries that year, which was 38 for every 10,000 full-time workers.

It is very important for hospitals and nursing homes to do what they can to prevent manual-patient-handling-related injuries among their workers. Some examples of steps such health care facilities can take towards this goal include putting proper safety procedures in place regarding patient handling and reducing the amount of manual patient handling that needs to occur by utilizing mechanical methods for patient moving/repositioning when possible.

When a nurse or other health care worker suffers an overexertion injury or some other injury as a result of manual patient handling, it can have a variety of effects on the worker, such as causing them to have to stay home from work for awhile. These effects could potentially take a significant financial toll on the worker. It is important for injured Coloradan health care workers to know that the workers’ compensation system may be able to help them deal with such financial impacts. Attorneys can provide assistance to health care workers who are making a workers’ compensation claim in relation to a workplace injury.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “SAFE PATIENT HANDLING,” Accessed Dec. 11, 2014