Another Story on Nurses' Injuries by NPR's Daniel Zwerdling

imagesOnce again, the issue of nurses’ injuries is the focus on Daniel Zwerdling’s second installment of a series on the injuries of nurses and other hospital staff.  This story focuses on the myth of proper lifting techniques.  For years, those looking into the proper body mechanics during lifting have documented that there is no safe way to lift a heavy patient safely without proper equipment.  Studies show that you can’t lift a trim adult safety.  Nurses and nursing assistants today are asked to deal with a population that is 70% overweight — many weighing 300 pounds or more.  Yet nursing schools, perhaps in an inadvertent but nonetheless dangerous alignment with hospitals, teach nurses that you can lift patients with “proper body mechanics” or  “proper alignment.”  William Marras at The Spine Research Institute at the University of Ohio has challenged this myth in years of research.  People have to listen to this series.  Particularly those who teach nurses and employ them.  It is not only financially nuts to turn nurses into patients as they take care of patients.  It’s also morally unacceptable.  Nursing schools have got to get on the bandwagon of change and stop promoting the idea that nursing staff can lift safely without lift equipment.  The VA has figured this out.  Why can’t everybody else.

Showing 4 comments
  • Jacqui Bennetts

    Oh my goodness. A lightbulb just went on in my head.

  • Carol Levine

    An important topic. And if nurses and nursing assistants are at risk, think of the millions of untrained family caregivers who are expected to do the heavy lifting (literally and metaphorically) without any training or equipment.

  • Sheryl Buckner

    Hi Suzanne,
    Heard the NPR story last night and I would like to comment. The ANA has a position statement on Safe Patient Handling and Mobility ( and much research has been done, particularly by Audrey Nelson ( and Nancy Menzel ( Over a decade ago, they collaborated with equipment companies and 30 nursing schools across the US (ours was one) to put SPHM equipment in place in our labs. We use our equipment year round and teach our students that using this equipment is the only safe way to move patients.

  • Sonia Spangenberg, RN

    It doesn’t matter how much technique instruction you’ve had or how many pieces of special equipment you have, when it’s hard to find a tech or another nurse to help you move a pt. and you are time strapped because your other critical pt. needs attention, your pt. moves unexpectedly while you are turning them, or the tech or assist lost grip, or you are pushing a heavy hospital bed with a patient in it 1/4 mile thru hallways to get to CT scan while balancing pushing two IV poles with 4 heavy pumps and holding on to the crash box while turning corners in the halls and trying to keep pace with the respiratory therapist and the ventilator, etc..etc…. There is textbook idealism and there is reality. Nurses focus on the care of their pts. over themselves by nature so when push comes to shove and your patient is going down, You do what you have to, to prevent their injury. You do that for 20 years you have injuries like a football player. But no long term coverage for the care of those issue over ravages of time. Let’s be real Ms. Buckner. Your story sounds nice but it ignores reality. Been there, done that. Can’t do it anymore.

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