Nurses and Nursing Assistants Face Occupational Injury and Workplace Violence Interview with:
Ahmed Gomaa, MD, ScD, MSPH
Medical Officer / Surveillance Branch
Division of Surveillance Hazard Evaluation and Health Studies
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Gomaa:  In 2013, one in five reported nonfatal occupational injuries occurred among workers in the health care and social assistance industry, the highest number of such injuries reported for all private industries. In 2011, U.S. health care personnel experienced seven times the national rate of musculoskeletal disorders compared with all other private sector workers. To reduce the number of preventable injuries among health care personnel, CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), with collaborating partners, created the Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN) to collect detailed injury data to help target prevention efforts. OHSN, a free, voluntary surveillance system for health care facilities, enables prompt and secure tracking of occupational injuries by type, occupation, location, and risk factors.

Medical Research: What are the main findings?

Dr. Gomaa:  The Occupational Health Safety Network (OHSN) collects and reports near real-time, specific, standard benchmarking information on injuries to help target prevention measures toward workers, departments, and activities at highest risk. From January 1, 2012 to September 30, 2014, the highest incidence rates of the three categories of occupational injuries were among nurse assistants and nurses. Workplace violence injury incidence rates increased from 2012 to 2014; most of these injuries were physical in nature and caused by patients. In over half of patient handling injuries, lifting equipment was not used (51%).

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Gomaa: Injury prevention interventions mitigating high-risk aspects of nurse and nurse assistant duties are needed. Safety cultures that emphasize continuous improvement and support resources such as routine use of lifting equipment, as well as safe patient-handling training and lifting teams, might prevent many of the musculoskeletal disorders from patient handling and the associated costs of diagnosis, treatment, and disability.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Gomaa:  I recommend research to promote hospital safety which integrates patient safety, worker safety, and environmental safety which are highly interrelated.   Research to promote culture of safety and the attitude that every single injury is an opportunity to find the risk factor for the injury and put in place an unceasing effort to prevent similar future injuries.  Finally a research to document the benefits of culture of safety where the healthcare facility frontline workers up to top management believe that their facilities should offer best hospital safety and have daily huddle and strive to target prevention opportunities based on data driven information. OHSN is one of the tools that can be used to help the aforementioned effort.


Occupational Traumatic Injuries Among Workers in Health Care Facilities — United States, 2012–2014

MMWR Weekly

April 24, 2015 / 64(15);405-410

[wysija_form id=”1″] Interview with: Ahmed Gomaa, MD, ScD, MSPH (2015). Nurses and Nursing Assistants Face Occupational Injury and Workplace Violence 

Last Updated on October 24, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD