1. Sedlak, Carol A.

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Have you ever experienced a work-related musculoskeletal injury while providing patient care? As the orthopaedic nurse workforce ages and increasing demands are placed on nurses in the healthcare environment, the promotion of nurse safety in the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries must be a priority. Protection of nurses from musculoskeletal injuries, incurred from hazardous lifting and patient transfers, has not kept up with the technology to prevent injury. The current approach for educating nurses and healthcare professionals about the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries is not addressing the problem. Ergonomic safety hazards that nurses face during patient care are creating job stress. However, the good news is that the standard for promoting nurse safety is changing.

Figure. Carol A. Sed... - Click to enlarge in new windowFigure. Carol A. Sedlak, PhD, RN, CNS, ONC, CNE

In March 2006, the NAON Executive Board approved the development of the Safe Patient Handling and Movement Taskforce. The taskforce is working with the American Nurses Association (ANA) and Audrey Nelson, PhD, nurse scientist at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital Patient Safety Center of Inquiry, to support ANA's Handle with Care Campaign for preventing work-related musculoskeletal injuries. NAON is pleased to work with these groups on this important initiative to provide evidence-based and practical ergonomic methods for safe patient handling of orthopaedic patients to prevent injuries for nurses, patients, and healthcare workers.


In August 2006, the taskforce sought input from the NAON membership on specific tasks that orthopaedic nurses perform that could be considered as high risk for job-related musculoskeletal injury. A list was prioritized and work has begun in developing algorithms to promote standardization for decision making in conducting each task.


This issue of Orthopaedic Nursing showcases an illustrious array of articles on nurse safety and safe patient handling and movement. A discussion of the progress that has been made to prevent musculoskeletal job-related injuries is provided with information and updates on current initiatives, legislative influences, and work that still needs to be done.


In the first article, Handle With Care: The American Nurses Association's Campaign to Address Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders, de Castro, former ANA Senior Staff Specialist for Occupational Health and Safety, discusses the work that the ANA is doing to prevent back injuries and musculoskeletal disorders in nurses resulting from manual patient handling activities. Nancy Hughes, ANA's current Director of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health, provides an update on the ANA's initiative.


In the second article, Evidence-Based Practices for Safe Patient Handling and Movement, Nelson and Baptiste describe evidence for interventions to help reduce musculoskeletal injuries in caregivers. For a long time, "[horizontal ellipsis] efforts have been based on tradition and personal experience rather than on scientific evidence." Education of nurses regarding body mechanics and lifting techniques has failed to reduce job-related injuries in patient care settings; new models of education are needed.


The third article, NIOSH Research Efforts to Prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Healthcare Industry, by Waters, Collins, and Galinsky, from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), provides a summarization of the scientific work in evaluation and development of the best practice recommendations for reducing workplace risk. Evidence is provided that supports the existence of significant risks and availability of effective interventions to decrease caregiver risk.


Orthopaedic nurses can make a difference in promoting safety at the workplace. Join us as we work toward the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries. You are invited to express your ideas about this nurse safety topic in the form of a "Letter to the Editor" or through development of a manuscript. Take time to imagine what a nurse-safe environment means to you.


Stay tuned to the upcoming endeavors of the NAON Safe Patient Handling and Movement Taskforce.