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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.v14.i6.70
14 pages

Prevention of Disabling Back Injuries in Nurses by the Use of Mechanical Patient Lift Systems

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
Kathryne L. Winters
Website Manager and Information Specialist, Trauma Specialists, LLP, Legacy Emanuel Hospital, Portland, Oregon, 1917 NE 97th St. Vancouver WA 98665, USA
Mary Anne Hudson
Public Health Nurse, Coos County Public Health Department, 1975 McPherson St. #, North Bend, Oregon, OR 97459, USA
L. D. Britt
Chairman, Brickhouse Professor of Surgery. Department of General Surgery, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Hofheimer Hall, 825 Fairfax Avenue, Norfolk VA 235001, USA
William B. Long III
Trauma Specialists LLP, Legacy Verified Level I Shock Trauma Center for Pediatrics and Adults, Legacy Emmanuel Hospital Portland, OR, USA

ABSTRACT

Occupational back pain in nurses (OBPN) constitutes a major source of morbidity in the health care environment. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), occupational back injury is the second leading occupational injury in the United States. Among health care personnel, nurses have the highest rate of back pain, with an annual prevalence of 40-50% and a lifetime prevalence of 35-80%. The American Nursing Association believes that manual patient handling is unsafe and is directly responsible for musculoskeletal disorders encountered in nurses. It has been well documented that patient handling can be done safely with the use of assistive equipment and devices that eliminate these hazards to nurses that invite serious back injuries. The benefit of assistive patient handling equipment is characterized by the simultaneous reduction of the risk of musculoskeletal injury to the nursing staff and improvement in the quality of care for patient populations.
To understand the cause of disabling injuries in health care workers, several factors must be considered, including the following: (1) anatomy/physiology of the back, (2) risk factors, (3) medical legal implications, and (4) prevention. Among nurses, back, neck, and shoulder injuries are commonly noted as the most prevalent and debilitating. While mostly associated with dependant patient care, the risk for musculoskeletal injury secondary to manual patient handling crosses all specialty areas of nursing. The skeletal defects of an abnormal back make the back more susceptible to occupational injury, even under normal stress conditions. Workers compensation guidelines for occupational back injury differ in public and private health care sectors from state to state. Nursing personnel should be reminded that the development of back pain following occupational activities in the hospital should be reported immediately to the Occupational Health Department. A nurse's failure to report OBPN immediately has resulted in numerous denials of claims for rehabilitation and compensation that nurses deserve. Experts believe that training in proper body mechanics does not prevent back injury. Consequently, focus has been placed on other innovative injury prevention programs, including the use of engineering controls as well as the "lift team" method. Ergonomics involves the use of mechanical devices (e.g., walking belt and mechanical hoist) to aid in patient lifting and transferring tasks.
Guldmann Inc. has devised ceiling lift systems and slings during the past 20 years. They have successfully completed thousands of installations worldwide, covering a wide range of challenging conditions and complex environments. The Guldmann ceiling-mounted hoist system consists of a wide range of lifting units, rail components, and a complete assortment of lifting slings and accessories. Its sling is made of polyester, which is characterized by its strength and elasticity. It retains its shape and is dirt repellent and easy to maintain. The Guldmann network has one of the largest and indisputably most experienced group of certified installers in the United States.
The "lift team" method was devised to remove nursing personnel from the everyday task of moving patients. This type of intervention assumes that lifting is a specialized skill to be performed only by expert professional patient movers who have been thoroughly trained in the latest lifting device techniques.