Injured Nurses: An Investigation

Contributed by Hank Hancock
March 1, 2018

The evidence could not be more compelling. The outcomes could not be more serious. It’s only a matter of the priority that hospital administrators give to protecting nursing staff.

Nurses face career-ending risks of injuries each time they attempt to lift or move a patient. They “suffer roughly three times the rate of back and other musculoskeletal injuries as construction laborers.”

Nurse injuries are to commonplace, but poorly documented. The trend toward transparency in healthcare calls for rigorous reporting of nurse injury, currently not industry practice.

Patient-centered care does not come at the expense of safeguarding our nurses. Indeed, it vitally depends on the health and safety of the nation’s nursing professionals.

There is no safe way to move or lift a patient manually, despite decades of training in “proper body mechanics.” The solution is no mystery to evidence-based practitioners. Ceiling lifts must be made standard equipment in more of our healthcare facilities. Add to that leadership to change the culture and train staff on new equipment.

And it’s the Veterans Administration that is leading the way in this initiative. Indeed, the US military health system has made evidence-based design an essential component of all its building programs.

This essential five-part investigation by Daniel Zwerdling for NPR investigates the epidemic of nurse injury and makes a compelling case to make the nation’s healthcare system a less dangerous place to work.