Sixty percent of nurses worry that their job is negatively impacting their overall health, and one in 10 nurses were injured on the job in the past year. The report from Ergotron Healthcare, a company in St. Paul, MN, that sells ergonomic equipment to support digital activities in healthcare, also suggests that nurses’ performance is harmed by physical discomfort.

The report, How Digital Healthcare Helps and Hurts Nurses, notes that when asked about the effects of injuries or discomfort, 22% of nurse respondents said they are less friendly or engaging with their patients. Another 22% said they have to modify or limit their activity or movement on the job. Seventeen percent said they are distracted, and 14% said they needed more assistance from other staff members. Twenty-five percent did not cite specific effects.

Nurse injuries have been well documented, but what is often not addressed is how their injuries and physical discomfort directly affects patient care, says Steve Reinecke, MT (CLS), CPHIMS, assistant vice president at Ergotron Healthcare.

When asked what they would change in their work environment to support the prevention of discomfort, pain, or injury to themselves and fellow nurses, 54% of the nurses in the Ergotron survey said they would increase nursing staff to alleviate workloads, 28% would instate a dedicated ergonomics team to help ensure equipment is ergonomically supportive to the staff, and 28% would redesign the physical space within patient rooms and on floors to better align with clinical workflow and patient needs. In addition, 25% would update the furniture at the nursing station, 24% would update medical equipment and furniture in the patient room, and 22% would implement more point-of-care solutions throughout the floor. Respondents could choose more than one answer.

Ill effects from injuries and discomfort in the workplace can fly under the radar until they turn into a costly workers’ comp claim, warns Joe Paduda, principal of Health Strategy Associates, a consulting firm in Madison, CT, specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation and group health. Individual claims also can seem routine and relatively inexpensive, but if not managed well, they can turn into a significant liability.

“If anything points out the challenge faced by risk managers — with frequency declining and severity seemingly under control — it’s how to get senior management’s attention when it appears things are going along quite nicely,” Paduda says. “The key is to identify those creeping catastrophics, the claims that seem to move along nicely, before veering off into the never-never land of opioids, permanent disability, and no resolution in sight. These are the anecdotal examples likely to generate a visceral response on the part of CFOs, a response that will provide the impetus needed to better manage these risks.”

Sources

Joe Paduda, Principal, Health Strategy Associates, Madison, CT. Email: jpaduda@healthstrategyassoc.com.

Steve Reinecke, MT (CLS), CPHIMS, Assistant Vice President, Ergotron Healthcare, St. Paul, MN. Email: sreinecke@ergotron.com.