health care providers and musculoskeletal problems


Inured Healthcare Workers

Mohamed Hassan – Giza/Egypt – Pixabay

Have you heard — those in the healthcare field —- particularly nurses and nurses aides have more musculoskeletal injuries than any other single profession (loggers, farmers, fishermen, etc)?  In a July 17th report from Public Citizen (Health Care Workers Unprotected Insufficient Inspections and Standards Leave Safety Risks Unaddressed), it was revealed that these injuries cost employers about $7,000,000,000 / year.  Although the report stated that we need much more OSHA oversight in health care facilities and better ergonomics, I will give you my opinion on the matter — an opinion based on 22 years of treating frequently injured nurses and nurses aides.  They lift too much.

With 70% of our adult population being either overweight or OBESE, and nurses having to frequently move these patients without any help as ‘dead weight,’ it is no wonder there is an abundance of injuries.  I routinely hear aides talking about the fact that on one hand they are supposed to get help to move patients that weigh more than a certain amount.  But on the other hand, they are given a job to do and expected to do it — often times very short-handed and within a certain time frame. 

Is this problem going to get better?  According to the report, if more tax dollars were poured into OSHA, it might.  I personally find that hard to believe.  The report itself gives the reason that the problem is not going to get better.  “The burdens placed on the healthcare industry will only increase as the number of baby boomers requiring nursing and living assistance grows over time.”  And if the vast majority of these folks are overweight, the physical burden placed on those who take care of them will continue to take a large toll.  And even though the MedPage report stated that,”for safe patient handling, they recommended, the use of lifting and transfer aids or similar devices should be a requirement while caring for residents and patients, and this device assistance should be required during all shifts and units“, we know full well that understaffed facilities that are actually in the process of slashing the numbers of employees due to the Obamacare cuts, are not always going to be following this advice.

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