The business of caring for others often takes a physical toll on healthcare workers.
They are constantly lifting, pulling, repositioning and moving patients who are unable to move themselves, putting them at risk for musculoskeletal injuries. In fact, patient handling was the number one concern for hospitals in a 2012 Health Care Workers Barometer survey by Aon Risk Solutions.
In addition, healthcare workers deal with hazardous variables like contagious patients, sharp medical objects, bloodborne pathogens and potentially violent individuals.
With the help of improved safety programs and new technology, including patient lifting devices, healthcare companies have been able to decrease the frequency of workers compensation claims. Unfortunately, the costs of individual claims are rising.
Here are 10 statistics that illustrate the need for stronger workplace safety programs in healthcare.
- Hospitals incur $0.78 in workers’ compensation losses for every $100 of payroll. Nationwide, that accounts for $2 billion in expenses annually.
- For every 10,000 employees, hospitals had 157.5 illness or injury cases resulting in days away from work in 2011. The amount of injuries by healthcare workers that account for days away from work is more than construction, manufacturing and the private sector, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
- About a third of hospital injuries resulting in days away from work are caused by interaction with a patient. These injuries have some of the highest indemnity costs – the cost companies have to pay to protect workers from financial burden.
- The rate of musculoskeletal disorders in nurses, orderlies and attendants is higher than any other occupation. In 2010, nurses and those with similar occupations had 249 cases of musculoskeletal disorders for every 10,000 workers, compared to the United States average of 34 for every 10,000 workers.
- Since musculoskeletal injuries are so common, nurses often work through the injuries. Eight out of 10 nurses say they often work through musculoskeletal pain, according to a 2011 survey by the American Nurses Association.
- Twenty-four percent of nurses and nursing assistants changed shifts or took sick leave to recover from an unreported injury, according to OSHA. By accepting the injury as part of the job, healthcare workers put more stress on themselves.
- Unreported injuries in the healthcare industry can be more costly in the long run. Claims reported one month after the injury occurred are 88 percent more costly than those reported immediately.
- The average workers’ compensation claim for a hospital injury is $15,860, according to OSHA, although some sources have estimated it’s closer to $22,000.
- Since hospitals and healthcare facilities can often treat injured workers on site, the cost of medical treatment is usually underestimated and discounted. Thirty percent of hospitals provided a 50 percent discount to injured workers, according to the Aon survey.
- Sixty-three percent of hospitals don't allocate the costs of injuries back to a specific department. By allocating costs, healthcare companies can instill a culture of accountability when it comes to safety.
Safety concerns in the healthcare industry are so prevalent –-yet underreported— that many companies don’t even realize the extent of the problem. Without reliable incident reporting and investigation, companies are unable to identify the source of these injuries and take steps to minimize them. Using an incident investigation and reporting software like ours allows healthcare companies to recognize trends so they can focus on improving safety in specific areas.
To learn more about BasicSafe’s incident reporting software and other safety management tools we offer for healthcare companies, request a free demo today.