The rest of the world is just starting to understand what nurses and CNAs already know: taking care of patients is both emotionally and physically demanding to the point that hospital staff are often at risk for serious health complications as a result of their work. In particular, hospital staff are already at a high risk for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) year round, and the October through early January influx of holiday related injuries to emergency rooms only exacerbates the existing problem. So what kinds of specific solutions are out there to prepare hospitals for the increased holiday risk to their staff?
Hospital Staff and Holiday Patient Influx
Hospitals and clinics around the country are already gearing up for the additional chaos and mental stress increased emergency traffic will bring over the holidays, but it’s often the more subtle injuries that are the most difficult to catch and prevent. For nurses and CNAs, the lifting, pushing, and pulling forces used to care for and transport patients makes them vulnerable to injuries to muscles and tendons. While these may result from a single act of overexertion, the more insidious effects develop over time after repeated smaller strains. As a result, healthcare workers may not even realize they have developed an MSD until it’s already too late, despite the best efforts of workplace safety engineers and policy planners. Sometimes the hospital layout alone can present hurdles, because navigating ramps and tight spaces in particular can also add undue strain. Any movement that requires lots of stops, starts, and turns, especially over carpet, can be aggravating to muscles and tendons.
Preventing MSDs in the healthcare industry is a monumental task, because they can occur any time exerted forces exceed, say, 40 pounds, meaning almost any patient, save very young children, can overtax the bodies of hospital employees. When we account for the prevalence of obese patients in need of treatment, the health risks for the care workers treating them increase all the more, and can even cause more aggressive and immediate MSDs to develop.
Safe Patient Transport All Year Round With the Right Tech
Safe patient transport strategies applied all year round can help protect staff as their jobs become more demanding during certain times of the year. Some of those strategies workplace safety engineers may already be familiar with involve simply applying better practices when lifting or transporting patients. Other strategies require new equipment and processes. One of the technological additions that can make work safer for hospital staff is the BREEZ 1025 ergonomic motorized patient transport chair. These motorized chairs eliminate the risk of MSDs to employees, unlike traditional wheelchairs, and are wide enough to support bariatric patients. Solutions like these that can accommodate individuals of all sizes protect hospital employees during times of high stress and high hospital traffic, when staff are typically less concerned with their own comfort and safety than that of their patients.
Other solutions that protect hospital staff during both particularly busy times and slower times can be found on the Healthcare portion of our website. For more information on the kinds of technology that can protect healthcare workers year-round, connect with one of our ergonomic experts via the Contact page.