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Occupational injuries among nurses and aides in a hospital setting

Authors

  • Leslie I. Boden PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    • Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, 715 Albany Street, Boston, MA 02118.
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  • Grace Sembajwe ScD,

    1. Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Torill H. Tveito PhD,

    1. Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. University of Bergen, Uni Health, Bergen, Norway
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  • Dean Hashimoto MD, JD,

    1. Department of Environmental Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Partners HealthCare System, Occupational Health Services, Boston, Massachusetts
    3. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Center for Community-Based Research, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Karen Hopcia PhD,

    1. Partners HealthCare System, Occupational Health Services, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Center for Community-Based Research, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Christopher Kenwood MS,

    1. New England Research Institutes, Watertown, Massachusetts
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  • Anne M. Stoddard ScD,

    1. New England Research Institutes, Watertown, Massachusetts
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  • Glorian Sorensen PhD, MPH

    1. Partners HealthCare System, Occupational Health Services, Boston, Massachusetts
    2. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Center for Community-Based Research, Boston, Massachusetts
    3. Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
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  • Disclosure Statement: Dr. Hashimoto and Dr. Hopcia are employed by Partners HealthCare System, and the two studied hospitals are Partners hospitals. There are no other possible conflicts of interest to report.

Abstract

Background

Patient care workers in acute care hospitals are at high risk of injury. Recent studies have quantified risks and demonstrated a higher risk for aides than for nurses. However, no detailed studies to date have used OSHA injury definitions to allow for better comparability across studies.

Methods

We linked records from human resources and occupational health services databases at two large academic hospitals for nurses (n = 5,991) and aides (n = 1,543) in patient care units. Crude rates, rate ratios, and confidence intervals were calculated for injuries involving no days away and those involving at least 1 day away from work.

Results

Aides have substantially higher injury rates per 100 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs) than nurses for both injuries involving days away from work (11.3 vs. 7.2) and those involving no days away (9.9 vs. 5.7). Back injuries were the most common days away (DA) injuries, while sharps injuries were the most common no days away (NDA) injuries. Pediatric/neonatal units and non-inpatient units had the lowest injury rates. Operating rooms and the float pool had high DA injury rates for both occupations, and stepdown units had high rates for nurses. NDA injuries were highest in the operating room for both nurses and aides.

Conclusions

This study supports the importance of a continuing emphasis on preventing back and sharps injuries and reducing risks faced by aides in the hospital setting. Uniform injury definitions and work time measures can help benchmark safety performance and focus prevention efforts. Am. J. Ind. Med. 55:117–126, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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