(1) VA National Centre for Patient Safety, Ann Arbor, MI, USA
* Corresponding author Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The high-risk, fast-paced healthcare industry presents unique health and safety challenges for healthcare personnel, including exposure to psychological and physical demands resulting in the incidence of musculoskeletal injuries of epidemic proportions. The dynamic healthcare environment demonstrates that workers are prone to injury through a host of factors unique to them being directly involved in patient care. Just as heredity and environment interact to result in disease, no single risk factor is responsible for injury but rather a complex interaction of worker, patient, and hospital characteristics. This critical review reports the risk factors and impact of musculoskeletal injuries, with consideration for how these factors impact the worker, quality of care, and patient outcomes. The intent of this critical review is to summarize current literature, identify gaps in research, and broaden the questions that are asked as the efforts to reduce occupational injury move forward, not to provide definitive risk factors and impacts for occupational injury.
The risk factors of occupational injury are well documented; less understood is the impact of elevated incidence of occupational injury on patient safety. Nursing injury rates are linked to nursing shortages and less nursing time at the bedside, both of which have been scientifically linked to negative patient outcomes. Further investigation is needed in this area not only due to the pain and suffering experienced by those directly affected, but also because of the organizational impacts that indirectly affect patient care. The benefit of this research is to reveal the integral role the individual worker plays in patient outcomes, despite the quality of care they provide, a finding that could dramatically change strategic priorities to deliver exemplary patient care and ensure the health and safety of workers, patients, and the public.