Safe Patient Handling/Mobility

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Musculoskeletal and other work-related injuries are the leading causes of registered nurses leaving the bedside or the profession altogether (Mazurenko, Gupte, & Shan, 2015). Nationally in 2014, of the 26, 830 injuries reported by nurses, 19.3% resulted 3-5 days away from work, and 24.5% of were unable to return to practice for more than 31 days  (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015). The total number of reported cases in the healthcare industry excluding social services in Delaware for 2014 was 1,800. The total number of cases with days away from work and job transfer/restrictions was 1,000 cases (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2016).

With nursing as a critical health care profession, on-the-job injuries potentially impact the career choices of a nurse and whether to continue in the profession. Challenges faced by bedside nurses that can lead to work-related injuries include:

  • larger and heavier patients
  • patients who are unable to follow instructions or physically assist with moving/transfer
  • combative patients or those unwilling to cooperate
  • patients who fear injuring themselves or others or who have cognitive difficulties
  • the level of pain or fatigue experienced by the patient
  • patients who have a propensity to fall or lose balance

Further, the use of good body mechanics may not always be an option due to confined spaces such as a bathroom or the configuration of and the available area in a patient room.

In order to establish a safe environment for nurses and patients, DNA supports evidenced-based practices to minimize work related musculoskeletal injuries associated with patient handling. These practices include the proper training and use of safe patient handling equipment and devices, patient care ergonomic assessment protocols, and patient lift teams.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2015). Nonfatal Occupational Injuries and Illnesses Requiring Days Away from Work, 2014. Washington DC: US Department of Labor.
Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016, January 7). State Occupational Injuries, Illnesses, and Fatalities. Retrieved from US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Mazurenko, O., Gupte, G., & Shan, G. (2015). Analyzing U.S. Nurse Turnover: Are Nurses Leaving. Journal of Hospital Administration, 48-56.