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VA hospitals pave the way for nurse safety practices

VA hospital's plans to reduce nurses' injuries may carve a path for other hospitals to follow. Share this article

A contraption to help move patients from one hospital bed to another may be the answer that health care professionals have been waiting for, as it may reduce the number of back injuries sustained on the job. Work-related injuries, especially for health care employees, have been on the rise and increasingly in the limelight in America. Not only do illnesses and injuries cause a major hindrance to the affected people, they also propose an issue for hospitals and their patients, respectively. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 18 million people work in health care, which makes it the fastest-growing industry in the country. Among its employees, women account for 80 percent of them. Regardless of the fact that it is possible to prevent the risk of injury for these men and women, they continue to face a wide range of hazards including back injuries, needle stick injuries, latex allergies, violence and stress.

Addressing nurses' injuries
The issue of an absent solution for these commonalities has sparked heated debates around the country. NPR conducted a new series to shed light on the issue, called "Injured Nurses." As explained in a recent segment, there may be light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to injuries induced by heavy lifting of equipment and patients.

NPR reported that a VA hospital, the Jerry L. Pettis Memorial Medical Center in Loma Linda, California, may be using a piece of equipment that could potentially end an "epidemic" at health care facilities around the country.

The device is a hook that hangs from the ceiling and attaches to the patient to help him or her move from a bed to a wheelchair or other place. Oftentimes, patients need assistance with basic movement, as diseases such as arthritis prevent their joints from cooperating.

Operated from a control box, the technology-driven lifts hoist the patient's body up, thus removing the responsibility from the nurse. Currently, the VA is investing more than $20 million into treating back injuries among its staff members.

If deemed successful for reducing injuries, this may be the trigger that's needed when it comes to reducing workplace injuries for nurses, doctors and other health care professionals. It's to be seen if the technology will take off. However, it's certainly a step in the right direction for providing relief for the very men and women who work to preserve Americans' health each day.

Relieving nurses from heavy lifting may reduce workplace injuries.Relieving nurses from heavy lifting may reduce workplace injuries.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing assistants were among the professionals who sustained the highest number of musculoskeletal disorders. In 2013, 53 percent of the total cases that happened to nurses were caused by MSD. To eliminate all musculoskeletal disorders sustained as a result of work-related injuries in health care settings would cut the total number of nationwide injuries by half. 

What are other solutions?
Again, this contraption would merely be a start in the right direction but not an answer to every problem. In addition to back-related injuries induced by heavy lifting, nurses are also against odds when it comes to other hazards, as the Occupational Health and Safety Administration pointed out. 

"Slips, trips and falls make up for 25% of injuries among hospital workers."

Slips, trips and falls make up for 25 percent of injuries among hospital workers. Such incidences can lead health care workers to take more sick days or may reduce productivity, as many people still show up to work despite an injury or ailment. 

To reduce the risk of slipping and falling, hospitals should consider implementing a corporate shoe policy. It's another step in the right direction that can protect the institution, as well as its employees and patients. 

Gripping news brought to you by Shoes For Crews, the trusted leader in safety footwear for more than 30 years.

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