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Effects of a National Safe Patient Handling Program on Nursing Injury Incidence Rates

Powell-Cope, Gail PhD, ARNP, FAAN; Toyinbo, Peter PhD; Patel, Nitin MPH; Rugs, Deborah PhD; Elnitsky, Christine PhD, RN; Hahm, Bridget MA, MPH; Sutton, Bryce PhD; Campbell, Robert PhD; Besterman-Dahan, Karen PhD; Matz, Mary MSPH, CPE, CSPHP; Hodgson, Michael MD, MPH

JONA: The Journal of Nursing Administration: October 2014 - Volume 44 - Issue 10 - p 525–534
doi: 10.1097/NNA.0000000000000111

OBJECTIVE: The objective of the study was to identify which components of a system-wide safe patient handling (SPH) program reduced musculoskeletal injury (MSI) due to patient handling among nurses.

METHODS: The 3-year longitudinal study from 2008 to 2011 used a pretest-posttest design. The study was conducted in the Veterans Health Administration, and all medical centers participated. The outcome was 2011 MSI incidence rates due to patient-related handling for nurses, expressed as injuries per 10 000 full-time employees.

RESULTS: Three organizational risk factors, bed days of care, facility complexity level, and baseline MSI incidence rate, were significantly associated with MSI incidence rate and explained 21% of its variation. Five SPH components, including deployment of ceiling lifts and other new technologies, peer leader effectiveness, competency in SPH equipment use, facility coordinator link with safety committee, and peer leader training, uniquely accounted for an additional 23% of the total variation.

CONCLUSIONS: Findings provide evidence to support the effectiveness of a multicomponent approach to SPH programs given contextual considerations.

Supplemental Digital Content is available in the text.

Author Affiliations: Tampa Site Codirector (Dr Powell-Cope), Biostatistician (Dr Toyinbo), Health Science Specialist (Mr Patel and Drs Rugs and Campbell), Supervisory Health Science Specialist (Ms Hahm), Research Associate (Dr Elnitsky), Medical Anthropologist (Dr Besterman-Dahan), and Economist (Dr Sutton), James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, HSR&D Center of Innovation on Disability and Rehabilitation Research, Tampa, Florida; Associate Professor (Dr Elnitsky), University of North Carolina at Charlotte, School of Nursing; Patient Care Ergonomics National Program Manager (Ms Matz), Office of Public Health, Department of Veterans Affairs, Veterans Health Administration, Washington, DC; Chief Medical Officer/Director, Office of Occupational Medicine at Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Washington, DC. (Dr Hodgson).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Correspondence: Dr Powell-Cope, James A. Haley Veterans Hospital, 8900 Grand Oak Circle, Tampa, FL 33637 (

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