Even ‘Proper’ Technique Exposes Nurses’ Spines To Dangerous Forces

Source: Daniel Zwerdling, NPR, All Things Considered, February 11, 2015

This is the second in a series of stories about the dangers of nursing that will air on All Things Considered and appear online during the month of February.

Read Part 1: Hospitals Fail To Protect Nursing Staff From Becoming Patients

Future stories will explore:
* Why most hospitals still are not taking aggressive steps to protect their nursing staff, even though the technology to do it is already on the market.
* How the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented a nationwide $200 million program to prevent nursing employees from getting injured when they move and lift patients.

…..According to the online course Nursing Fundamentals, “Body mechanics is the utilization of correct muscles to complete a task safely and efficiently. Keep your back straight. Bend at the knees and hips.”
But William Marras, director of the Spine Research Institute at The Ohio State University, says “this is why nursing staffs are getting hurt lifting patients.”

“The magnitude of these forces that are on your spine are so large that the best ‘body mechanics’ in the world are not going to keep you from getting a back problem,” he says.

Marras and his colleagues have used sophisticated electronic gadgetry to peer inside the backs of nurses and other hospital staff as they move patients. Their conclusions have dramatic implications for the hospital industry:
“There’s no safe way to do it with body mechanics,” he says.

Hospital staff can lift and move patients safely only if they stop doing it manually — with their own human strength — and use machines and other equipment instead, Marras says. That means nursing staff might move patients by using technology such as a ceiling hoist — much like factory workers move heavy parts…..

….Prominent nursing groups, such as the American Nurses Association and the National Nurses United union, endorse the conclusion that nursing staff cannot lift patients safely without proper equipment. Yet NPR found that administrators at most hospitals still do not follow the findings…..