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The Deadliest Shift, or Ice Road Nurses!: How Nursing Assessment Could Reduce Injuries and Injury-Related Costs

December 17, 2015

When we talk about dangerous professions, the public will probably think of the fisherman in the TV show Deadliest Catch, or the drivers on Ice Road Truckers. No doubt, mistakes in either line of work can be fatal.

When it comes to non-fatal injuries, though – we should have a show about nurses!

  • Compared to all other industries, healthcare workers experience the highest rate of nonfatal injuries (543.4 per 10,000 full time workers), of any occupation.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – nursing aides, orderlies and attendants report the highest incident rate of musculoskeletal injuries requiring two days away from work, of any occupation.
  • An American Nurses Association survey reveals that 88% of nurses report that health and safety concerns influence their decision to remain in nursing. Fewer than 20% felt safe in their current work environment.

The incident rate for hospitals and long term care facilities is almost twice as high as manufacturing, construction, logging and mining! Think about the impact on staffing when most facilities are struggling to fill nursing positions. Think about the financial impact to organizations struggling with declining reimbursement and slim and shrinking margins.

Commonly the hiring strategy in healthcare focuses exclusively on clinical and technical skills with little attention to the individual characteristics that impact workplace safety. Creating a culture of safety is achievable and research has identified the practices which are most effective at reducing injuries. Hospitals with the lowest injury rates employ proactive measures. The most effective steps include a safety-focused management style, employee training and, very importantly, the consideration of key safety variables in the hiring process.

In a recent study, Selection decisions focusing on selected behavioral traits have been demonstrated to reduce injury rates. Over a one year period, employees hired using a new selection process, which included the combination of Conscientiousness, Locus of Control and Impulsivity, was compared to injury data from employees hired prior to use of this new selection process. Of the 497 employees hired under the older system, 12.6% reported an injury. In contrast, only 3.4% of the 294 employees hired using the new process reported injuries.

These rates of injury are unacceptable and they have a multi-million dollar impact on the bottom line. Simply having someone from Physical Therapy train the nurses on the proper patient transfer techniques, again, is NOT a solution. Other industries focus on safety and are effective at reducing injuries. It’s time to learn from their successes.

Interested in learning more about how to better your healthcare hiring? Check out our Healthcare Hiring Essentials eBook!

Bryan Warren Bryan Warren was the former Director of Healthcare Solutions at PSI. He was responsible for developing and promoting tools and services designed specifically for the unique challenges faced by healthcare organizations.