Little Support From Above

Health Care Industry Leaders Neither Endorse Nor Suggest Proposals to Address the Epidemic of Patient Handling Injuries

By Taylor Lincoln

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Introduction

Health care workers suffer more injuries requiring days away from work than those in any other industry.

This report is the final in our series, “Nursing: A Profession in Peril,” on the topic of caregivers suffering injuries from lifting, transferring and positioning patients. It reviews the views of prominent government agencies, organizations that represent health care workers and organizations that represent health care providers on how to address the quiet epidemic of injuries related to the handling of patients.

In brief, government agencies, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), recommend much more stringent safeguards than currently exist.

Organizations representing health care workers, including associations and labor unions, appear to support legislation to institute greater safeguards across the board.

National organizations representing health care providers do not appear to support any regulatory proposals intended to reduce injuries associated with patient handling, nor do they appear to publicly advocate non-regulatory solutions. Not only do industry representatives reject regulatory proposals to reduce injuries to health care workers, they also oppose proposals aimed at improving reporting of workplace injuries.