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"Reducing back injury in nursing: A case study using
mechanical equipment and a hospital transport team as a lift team" 

William Charney, DOH, Associate Managing Editor. Journal of Healthcare Safety, Compliance & Infection Control. March 2000, Vol. 4, No. 3.



A one-year research study to evaluate a method to reduce back injury in nursing was undertaken in a 200-bed acute care facility in northern California. The method, using an already existing transport team as a lift team, and providing the proper amount of mechanical patient-lifting equipment, reduced injuries and modified-duty days from the two comparable years, 1996 (11 lost-time injuries and 151 modified-duty days), to the study year of two non-lost time injuries with two modified-duty days.

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The health care facility cross-trained an already existing transport team to become the designated patient lifters. Nurses were instructed by policy not to lift patients, and the transport department was required to use mechanical transfer equipment for each total body transfer. Manual lifting was forbidden. The facility was given five transfer stretchers, two vertical lifts, and five transfer patient chairs - 12 pieces of mechanical patient lifters at an approximate cost of $66,305. The transport department acting as lift team accomplished 3,188 lifts during the study year without lost time injury to the transport staff. Only one nurse reported injury during the study year with no lost time. This nurse did not use a mechanical lifting device when the injury occurred. Transport staff reported only one non-lost-time injury. Two days of modified duty were reported during the study year for a total compensible injury cost
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of $336, compared with $23,000 (1996) and $63,000 (1997), respectively, in the nonstudy years.


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