Library Subscription: Guest
Begell Digital Portal Begell Digital Library eBooks Journals References & Proceedings Research Collections
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.v15.i2.90
pages 225-242

Devastating Injuries in Healthcare Workers: Description of the Crisis and Legislative Solution to the Epidemic of Back Injury from Patient Lifting

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
Mary Anne Hudson
Public Health Nurse, Coos County Public Health Department, 1975 McPherson St. #, North Bend, Oregon, OR 97459, USA
Ralph M. Buschbacher
Clinical Associate Professor & Interim Chair. Department of Physical Medicine&Rehabilitation, Indiana University School of Medicine,CL 368,541 North Clinical Drive, Indianapolis IN 46202, 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
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
Mary Jude Cox
Glaucoma Service, Eye Physicians of Southern New Jersey, Voorhees, New Jersey; and Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
Daniel G. Becker
Associate Professor, Director of Facial Plastic Surgery Dept of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center Founder, Becker Nose and Sinus Center, LLC Sewell, New Jersey, USA
Joseph K. McLaughlin
Professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt Medical School, President, International Epidemiology Institute, 1455 Research Blvd., Suite 550, Rockville, Maryland, 20850-3127, USA
Thomas S. P. Zomerschoe
President/Owner Zomerschoe Physical Therapy, Coos Bay, Oregon, USA
Mary F. Latimer
Administrative Assistant, Trauma Specialists, LLP, Portland, Oregon, USA
Robert D. Zura
Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Duke University Medical Center, Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, Box 3389, Durham, NC 27710, USA
Nona S. Paulsen
CMA, Portland, Oregon, 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
Barbara M. Brodie
Madge M.Jones Professor of Nursing Emeritus, University of Virginia School of Nursing, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Susan Berenson
Clinical Nurse Specialist in Integrative Medicine Certified by the American Reflexology Certification Board, Certified for Reiki Level II, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York, USA
Scott E. Langenburg
Assistant Professor of Pediatric Surgery; Director of Trauma; Director, Computer-Assisted Robotic-Enhanced Surgery. Childrens Hospital of Michigan, 3901 Beaubien Blvd., Detroit MI 48201, USA
Lise Borel
Sales and Pharmaceutical Representative, West Chester, Pennsylvania, USA
Danielle B. Jenson
Medical Assistant, Portland Medical Clinic, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
Dillon E. Chang
Chairman, Department of Anesthesiology, Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
W. Randolph Chitwood, Jr.
Professor of Surgery; Senior Associate Vice Chancellor Health Sciences (Cardiovascular Diseases); Chief, Division of Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery, Brody School of Medicine/East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA
Thomas H. Roberts
Thomas H. Roberts & Associates, PC, Richmond, Virginia, USA
Mara J. Martin
Public Relations Liaison/Media Coordinator, Sagamore Faith in Communities, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Anna Miller
Bariatric Care Coordinator, Digestive Health Center of Excellence, University of Virginia Health Systems, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Charles L. Werner
Deputy Fire Chief, Charlottesville Fire Dept., Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Peyton T. Taylor, Jr
Richard N. & Louise R. Crockett Professor of Ohstetrics & Gynecology; Medical Director, Cancer Center. University of Virginia Health System P.O. Box 800712 Charlottesville VA 22908, USA
Jeanette Lancaster
Sadie Heath Cabaniss Professor and Dean, University of Virginia School of Nursing, Charlottesville, Virginia, USA
Marina S. Kurian
Assistant Director of Surgical Education. Lenox Hill Hospital 130 East 77th Street, Black Hall, 13th Floor New York NY 10021, USA
Jerry L. Falwell, Jr.
Vice Chancellor and General Counsel, Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, USA
Reverend Jerry Falwell
Chancellor/President of Liberty University, Lynchburg, Virginia, USA

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this report is to describe a crisis in healthcare, disabling back injuries in US healthcare workers. In addition, outlined is the proven solution of safe, mechanized, patient lifting, which has been shown to prevent these injuries. A "Safe Patient Handling—No Manual Lift" policy must be immediately instituted throughout this country. Such a policy is essential to halt hazardous manual patient lifting, which promotes needless disability and loss of healthcare workers, pain and risk of severe injury to patients, and tremendous waste of financial resources to employers and workers' compensation insurance carriers. Healthcare workers consistently rank among top occupations with disabling back injuries, primarily from manually lifting patients. Back injury may be the single largest contributor to the nursing shortage. Reported injuries to certified nursing assistants are three to four times that of registered nurses. A national healthcare policy for "Safe Patient Handling—No Manual Lift" is urgently needed to address this crisis. Body mechanics training is ineffective in prevention of back injury with patient lifting. Mandated use of mechanical patient lift equipment has proven to prevent most back injury to nursing personnel and reduce pain and injury to patients associated with manual lifting. With the national epidemic of morbid obesity in our country, innovative devices are available for use in emergency medical systems and hospitals for patient lifting and transfer without injury to hospital personnel.
The US healthcare industry has not voluntarily taken measures necessary to reduce patient handling injury by use of mechanical lift devices. US healthcare workers who suffer disabling work-related back injuries are limited to the fixed, and often inadequate, relief which they may obtain from workers' compensation. Under workers' compensation law, healthcare workers injured lifting patients may not sue their employer for not providing mechanical lift equipment. Discarding healthcare workers disabled by preventable back injuries is an abuse which legislators must remedy.
In addition, Medicare reimbursement policies must also be updated to allow the disabled community to purchase electrically operated overhead ceiling lifts. The US lags far behind countries with legislated manual handling regulations and "No Lifting" nursing policies. England and Australia have had "No Lifting" nursing policies in place since 1996 and 1998, respectively. The National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA) recognized a model in 2003 for reduction of back injuries to nursing staff in US healthcare facilities. Also in 2003, the American Nurses Association called for elimination of manual patient handling because it is unsafe and causes musculoskeletal injuries to nurses. The first state legislation for safe patient handling passed both houses in California but was vetoed by the Governor in September 2004. California and other states are preparing to (re)introduce legislation in January 2005. A national, industry-specific policy is essential to quell the outflow of nursing personnel to disability from manual patient lifting.