Category Archives: Health & Safety

Health care worker fatigue and patient safety

Source: The Joint Commission, Sentinel Event Alert, Issue 48, December 14, 2011

The link between health care worker fatigue and adverse events is well documented, with a substantial number of studies indicating that the practice of extended work hours contributes to high levels of worker fatigue and reduced productivity. These studies and others show that fatigue increases the risk of adverse events, compromises patient safety, and increases risk to personal safety and well -being. While it is acknowledged that many factors contribute to fatigue, including but not limited to insufficient staffing and excessive workloads, the purpose of this Sentinel Event Alert is to address the effects and risks of an extended work day and of cumulative days of extended work hours.

Caring in America: A comprehensive analysis of the nation’s fastest-growing jobs: Home health and personal care aides

Source: Dorie Seavey and Abby Marquand, Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), December 2011

From the abstract:
This PHI report provides a thorough analysis of the home care and personal care industries in the U.S., as well as of the workers who provide both types of care. The authors detail the many difficulties facing workers in both fields, including uncompetitive wages with little to no benefits offered, inconsistent and often inadequate training requirements, high injury rates, and unpredictable hours. The report lists several recommendations to improve the quality of these jobs.

Sleep Disorders, Health, and Safety in Police Officers

Source: Shantha M. W. Rajaratnam, Laura K. Barger, Steven W. Lockley, Steven A. Shea, Wei Wang, Christopher P. Landrigan, Conor S. O’Brien, Salim Qadri, Jason P. Sullivan, Brian E. Cade, Lawrence J. Epstein, David P. White, Charles A. Czeisler, JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 306 no. 23, December 21, 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Context: Sleep disorders often remain undiagnosed. Untreated sleep disorders among police officers may adversely affect their health and safety and pose a risk to the public.

Objective: To quantify associations between sleep disorder risk and self-reported health, safety, and performance outcomes in police officers.

Conclusion: Among a group of North American police officers, sleep disorders were common and were significantly associated with increased risk of self-reported adverse health, performance, and safety outcomes.

Needlestick injuries among nursing staff: Association with shift-level staffing

Source: Patricia A. Patrician, Erica Pryor, Moshe Fridman, Lori Loan, American Journal of Infection Control Vol. 39, Issue 6, August 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Despite the advent of safety measures to protect the health care workforce from contracting blood-borne diseases, nurses still sustain percutaneous injuries. We investigated the association between shift-level staffing and needlestick injuries….There was no difference in rate by unit type. Factors associated with needlestick occurrences on shifts were lower RN skill mix, a lower percentage of experienced staff, and fewer nursing care hours per patient per shift. Needlestick injuries continue to occur. An organizational culture of safety should emphasize the need for adequate staffing on every shift and extra vigilance during periods of high workload.

Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus: New Treatment Guidelines for an Old Bug

Source: Jamie M. Rosini, Connie Yu, Journal of Emergency Nursing, Volume 37, Issue 6, published online 05 October 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a common cause of a variety of infections ranging from skin and soft-tissue infections (SSTIs) to more serious infections such as meningitis, endocarditis, and pneumonia. Previously recognized solely as a nosocomial microorganism, MRSA has emerged in community settings (eg, athletic centers, prisons, and military sites) and health care-associated environments (eg,long-term care facilities and dialysis centers). In February 2011 the Infectious Diseases Society of America published its first evidence-based guidelines for the management of MRSA infections. Several antibiotics are available to treat this resistant pathogen.

Deconstructing Crain and Crain: Estimated cost of OSHA regulations is way off base

Source: Isaac Shapiro and Ross Eisenbrey, Economic Policy Institute, Issue Brief #312, August 18, 2011

From the press release:
The estimate by Nicole V. Crain and W. Mark Crain that Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) regulations cost businesses $65 billion a year is vastly overstated, a new Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Issue Brief finds. Crain and Crain conducted a study of the cost of government regulations for the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy in 2010 that included this estimate.

Crain and Crain attribute more than 99 percent of the $65-billion estimate to regulations adopted in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. Deconstructing Crain and Crain: Estimated cost of OSHA regulations is way off base, by EPI Vice President Ross Eisenbrey and Director of Regulatory Policy Research Isaac Shapiro, explains that the Crains’ estimate is problematic for three reasons.

2010 edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted

Source: FBI, 2011

From the press release:
According to information released today by the FBI, 56 law enforcement officers were feloniously killed in the line of duty last year; 72 officers died in accidents while performing their duties; and 53,469 officers were assaulted in the line of duty. The 2010 edition of Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted released today provides comprehensive tabular data about these incidents and brief narratives describing the fatal attacks.

Nonfatal Occupational Injuries And Illnesses Requiring Days Away From Work, 2010

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Economic News Release, USDL-11-1612, November 9, 2011

The rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases requiring days away from work to recuperate was 118 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2010, statistically unchanged from 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total number of private industry, state government, and local government cases decreased 4 percent to 1,191,100. The median days away from work–a key measure of severity of injuries and illnesses–was 8 days, the same as the previous year.

When Mass Transit Riders Attack

Source: Eric Jaffe, The Atlantic Cities, November 8, 2011

It’s not a great time to be a transit rider. Metro areas across the country are addressing budget shortages for public transportation by cutting service, or raising fares, or doing both. Bad as things are for passengers, it may be an even worse time to be a transit worker. In several large cities, passenger abuse of workers is on the rise.

Nursing and Residential Care Workers Suffer Highest Occupational Injury Rates

Source: Matthew Ozga, PHI, PolicyWorks Blog, 03 November 2011

Workers in nursing and residential care facilities experienced the highest injury rates of any occupational setting in 2010, according to data (pdf) recently released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)….

…Combined, the health care and social assistance industry reported a higher injury/illness rate than any other private sector….

…Nursing and residential care facility workers employed in the public sector suffered even higher injury rates than their private-industry counterparts, the BLS report additionally found.
See also:
Workplace Injuries and Illnesses – 2010
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, News Release, USDL-11-1502, October 20, 2011
Statement from Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA on increase of nonfatal occupational injuries among health care workers / OSHA to focus on improving safety and health at nursing home facilities
Source: OSHA News Release, 11-1638-NAT, November 9, 2011