Nurses, assistants most injury prone in healthcare: CDC

Healthcare jobs have long been among the riskiest, most dangerous and injury-prone occupations around. Nurses and nurse assistants are the unluckiest among them, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In its April 24 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the CDC reveals that nurses and nursing assistants accounted for nearly 60% of all identified OSHA-recordable injuries from 2012 to 2014. Among the most costly injuries were musculoskeletal. In 2011, healthcare personnel experienced seven times the national rate of musculoskeletal disorders, compared with all other private sector workers, the CDC noted. It cited overweight/obese and acutely ill patients, high patient-to-nurse ratios, long shifts, and current efforts to mobilize patients almost immediately after medical interventions.

Just two years ago, healthcare occupations were the source of 20% of all reported nonfatal occupational injuries in the country, the CDC reported. Of the 10,680 reported injuries between 2012 and 2014, 4,674 involved patient handling and movement, 3,972 were the result of slips, trips, and falls, and 2,034 resulted from workplace violence. During the same period, workplace violence rates nearly doubled for nurse assistants and nurses.

The new report based its conclusions from data voluntarily supplied by 112 entities, most of them general medical and surgical facilities. An earlier CDC report found that nursing care facilities ranked eighth among all industry sectors for job-related injuries (with 113,800 cases) but significantly behind general medical-surgical hospitals, which were a leading source of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases. Nursing care facilities at the time, however, reported among the highest rates of overexertion injuries and sprains and strains injuries involving days away from work.

Using lifting equipment, training, and establishing a safety culture that emphasizes continuous improvement are among the best precautions long-term care facilities can take to mitigate injuries, the CDC said.