Safe patient handling linked to fewer worker injuries

Hospitals that implement safe patient handling and moving policies may find these practices associated with fewer injuries among health care workers, a small study suggests.Researchers analyzed data on 1,832 patient care providers at two U.S. hospitals – one that started a safety program and one without these policies in place.At the hospital that implemented safe patient handling policies, the risk of neck and shoulder injuries declined 32 percent in the year after these polices took effect. Over that same period, the odds of lifting and exertion injuries dropped 27 percent and the chances of pain and inflammation decreased 22 percent, the study found.

For the hospital that didn’t implement these safety programs, however, there were no significant changes in injury risk over the study period.

“Integrating safe patient equipment and procedures into the plan of care for each patient . . . aligns the goal of caring for the patient with the prevention of worker injury,” said lead study author Dr. Jack Dennerlein of Northeastern University in Boston.

“This approach can easily be transferred to other hospitals,” Dennerlein added by email.

For the current study, researchers evaluated a hospital-wide safe patient handling and mobilization program initiated at one academic medical center in the Boston area. The “control” hospital in the study was similar in size, patient complexity and payer mix but didn’t implement a safety program.

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