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Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

ISSN Print: 1050-6934
ISSN Online: 1940-4379

Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants

DOI: 10.1615/JLongTermEffMedImplants.v16.i3.20
pages 207-222

A Tribute to a Gifted Scholar, Anne Hudson, Who Has Made Revolutionary Advances in Healthcare and Patient Safety in Our Nation

Richard Edlich
Legacy Verified Level I Shock Trauma Center Pediatrics and Adults, Legacy Emanual Hospital; and Plastic Surgery, Biomedical Engineering and Emergency Medicine, University of Virginia Health System, USA

ABSTRACT

This article describes how Mary Anne Hudson, RN, BSN, turned a devastating spinal injury from lifting patients into a powerful, national-level campaign for safe patient handling in America. Anne Hudson was a well-respected nurse, caring for acutely ill patients in medical-surgical, telemetry, and intermediate care units of a hospital, until a spinal injury from lifting patients ended her hospital career. She discovered that training in “correct” patient lifting technique and body mechanics was inadequate to protect against injury with lifting adult patients of all sizes. The injury led to 2 years of conservative treatment, followed by a two-level, anterior-posterior, lumbar, interbody fusion, with placement of cadaver bone grafts and titanium hardware.
During nearly 5 years of dealing with the workers' compensation system, Anne Hudson found that workers' compensation does not assist back-disabled nurses to return to their employment, but, typically re-directs such injured nurses away from nursing, into lower-paying, non-nursing work. With permanent lifting restrictions, Anne Hudson counts herself as quite fortunate to have found other employment as a public health nurse with the county health department. She was aware that a cycle of pain, frustration, and depression is common among injured nurses who are terminated when they can no longer lift. Anne Hudson's response was to seek information on back injury to nurses. She discovered that the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends a safety lifting limit of 51 lbs. for men, 46 lbs. for women; that research has proven there are no safe methods of manual patient lifting; that healthcare workers suffer more work-related musculoskeletal injuries than any other occupation; that a survey of injured nurses revealed that the majority of nurse back injuries are to lumbar spinal discs; and that use of safe, mechanical, patient-lift equipment could prevent most nurse back injury. Anne Hudson learned that manual lifting had been described as deplorable, inefficient, dangerous to nurses, and often painful and brutal to patients. She knew thatpatients could suffer pain, bruising, skin tears, abrasions, tube dislodgement, and sometimes dislocations, fractures, and being dropped by nursing staff during attempts to lift. Anne Hudson learned about “no lifting” patient handling practices in other countries, such as England and Australia, where government regulations and nursing policies have banned manual lifting for many years due to the recognized danger to patients and nurses.
Her devastating spinal injury became the catalyst for Anne Hudson to become a voice for back-injured nurses, to speak out against the irrefutable hazard of manual patient lifting and to endorse modern, more humane, mechanized patient lifting. Anne Hudson was prepared for her advocacy role by excellent training during her Associate of Science in Nursing program at Southwestern Oregon Community College, with the guidance of her highly-esteemed nursing advisor, Dr. Angie Quinn, and by her Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at Oregon Health Sciences University, where she was inspired by her much-admired nursing instructor, Carol Christieb, who portrayed the significance of contributions made by nurses on the community level. With a crucial message to share, Anne Hudson now had a vision of “caring” for the community of nurses.
A fortuitous meeting with William Charney, the remarkable man whose pioneering research with “no lift” policy and “lift team” use of patient-lift equipment proved that most nurse back injury could be prevented, at tremendous financial savings on medical and compensation costs, led to opportunities to speak on behalf of back-injured nurses at healthcare and safety conferences, including the Safe Patient Handling and Movement Conference, Occupational Hazards to Health Care Workers Conference, Association of Occupational Health Professionals in Healthcare National Convention, and Healthcare Ergonomics Conference. Anne Hudson's first international speaking event occurred on November 23, 2005, at the Australian Nursing Federation Victorian Branch “No Lifting Expo” in Melbourne, Victoria. Anne Hudson has put aside her natural inclination to avoid public speaking in order to increase awareness of the epidemic of needless back injury from manual patient lifting; to expose the plight of back-injured nurses, often terminated as worthless when disabled by forced hazardous lifting; and to espouse the need for state and national “safe patient handling−no manual lift” legislation. To further the cause of such legislation, she was the guest on a television news talk show and was interviewed for a television news broadcast. Anne Hudson has, also, met with the officers of multiple labor unions that represent healthcare workers, regarding efforts for state legislation, and, with state and national legislators, with the ultimate goal of a national mandate for “safe patient handling−no manual lift” in America.
When Anne Hudson became back-injured, she could find no organized support for injured nurses. This was surprising since back injury is such a common problem among nurses. She has reached out to help injured nurses by founding Work Injured Nurses' Group USA (WING USA) at www.wingusa.org, which offers information, mutual support, and advocacy for back-injured nurses and other healthcare workers. There are currently about 550 visitors per day from at least six countries. Online contacts have led to many special and lasting friendships, including with Maria Bryson, an English nurse who is an influential and widely-respected Royal College of Nursing Work Injured Nurses Group steward and safety representative, and Elizabeth Langford, Coordinator of the Australian Nursing Federation Victorian Branch Injured Nurses' Support Group, whose landmark report, Buried But Not Dead: A Survey of Occupational Illness and Injury Incurred by Nurses in the Victorian Health Service Industry, sparked the “no lifting” movement in Australia and provided the foundation for the Australian Nursing Federation Victorian Branch No Lifting Policy. Elizabeth Langford's research revealed that the majority of back-injured nurses reported lumbar disc injury, indicating that work injury data listing “sprains and strains” as most common may capture only an initial diagnosis, thereby obscuring the true severity of back injury to nurses, the majority of which appears to be disc injury which may be discovered by diagnostic testing at a later date.
Anne Hudson has become a prolific writer on issues surrounding back injuries to nurses and safe patient handling. She collaborated with William Charney on Back Injury among Healthcare Workers: Causes, Solutions, and Impacts, the most definitive book to date on the epidemic of back injuries caused by manually lifting patients. The first of its kind, the book combines preventive technology with the financial and ethical case for implementing comprehensive, safe patient handling programs that eliminate manual patient lifting. This book presents comprehensive information on the hazards of manual patient lifting and proven solutions, through the use of modern technology, with an international perspective. Intertwined with technical information on injury prevention are the poignant personal stories of back-injured nurses, revealing the lasting, devastating impacts of severe injury caused by physically lifting patients. Contributing author Elizabeth Shogren observed that the healthcare industry has relied upon people to do the work of machines.
Anne Hudson joined the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants, and a team of gifted scientists, to publish three papers. “Prevention of Disabling Back Injuries in Nurses by the Use of Mechanical Patient Lift Systems” explores the benefits of overhead mechanical lift systems in preventing back injuries among healthcare workers, such as offered by Guldmann, Inc., one of the largest, and indisputably most-experienced, overhead lift installers in the United States. “The Sit & Stand Chair. A Revolutionary Advance in Adaptive Seating Systems” explains that a major factor governing independence for the elderly and persons with disabilities is the ability to stand from a chair. The report describes the innovative Sit & StandChair, which allows the elderly and persons with disabilities to achieve a standing position without the assistance of a healthcare worker. Following publication, this lift system became commercially available from Golden Inc., marketed as the Easy Up Chair. After Anne Hudson joined the Editorial Board of the Journal of Long-Term Effects of Medical Implants, she coordinated a comprehensive review on the crisis of devastating back injuries in healthcare workers, which involved 30 distinguished healthcare professionals across our nation. “Devastating Injuries in Healthcare Workers: Description of the Crisis and Legislative Solution to the Epidemic of Back Injury from Patient Lifting” describes the crisis in healthcare of disabling back injuries in U.S. healthcare workers and outlines the proven solution of safe, mechanized, patient lifting. Because the U.S. healthcare industry has not voluntarily implemented mechanical lift devices to reduce back injuries to healthcare workers, Anne Hudson believes the solution must be mandated through state and federal legislation. Additionally, Medicare reimbursement policies must be updated to allow the disabled community to purchase electrically operated overhead ceiling lifts for use in their homes.
Anne Hudson's outstanding article, “Texas Passes First Law for Safe Patient Handling in America: Landmark Legislation Protects Healthcare Workers and Patients from Injury related to Manual Patient Lifting,” heralds the dawn of a new era of safe patient handling in America. With the signing of Texas Senate Bill 1525, by Republican Governor Rick Perry on June 17, 2005, Texas became the first state in the nation to adopt legislation requiring hospitals and nursing homes to implement a safe patient handling and movement program. TX SB 1525, which will take effect January 1, 2006, requires hospitals and nursing homes to adopt a policy to develop strategies to control risk of injury to nurses and patients with lifting and movement. Also included is provision for nurses to refuse to perform patient handling activities which are believed in good faith to expose a patient or nurse to an unacceptable risk of injury. Anne Hudson highly commends Texas Governor Rick Perry for taking this heroic first stand for safe patient handling in America.
Anne was delighted to champion legislation in the state of Washington that represented a further advance in protecting healthcare workers and their patients from serious injury. Washington State HB 1672 was signed by Governor Gregoire on March 22, 2006. This law mandates that hospitals provide lift equipment as part of their policy for safe patient handling, with their choice of three options for implementation (http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2005-06/Pdf?Bills?House%20Passed%20Legislature/1672-S.PL.pdf).
Turning her unfortunate injury into victory for others, Anne Hudson has become a champion for nurses. Her vision is of the day when nurses no longer need to fear being disabled by dangerous lifting and losing their career to preventable back injury. Anne Hudson holds fast to her ultimate goal of meeting with President George W. Bush at the White House for the signing of national “safe patient handling−no manual lift” legislation in America.