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Under-reporting of work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the Veterans Administration.

Author information

1
Patient Safety Center of Inquiry, James A. Haley Veterans Administration Medical Center, Tampa, Florida, USA. kris.siddharthan@med.va.gov

Abstract

PURPOSE:

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders following patient contact represent a major concern for health care workers. Unfortunately, research and prevention have been hampered by difficulties ascertaining true prevalence rates owing to under-reporting of these injuries. The purpose of this study is to determine the predictors for under-reporting work-related musculoskeletal injuries and their reasons.

DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH:

Multivariate analysis using data obtained in a survey of Veterans Administration employees in the USA was used to determine underreporting patterns among registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and nursing assistants. Focus groups among health care workers were conducted at one of the largest Veterans Administration hospitals to determine reasons for under-reporting.

FINDINGS:

A significant number of workers reported work-related musculoskeletal pain, which was not reported as an injury but required rescheduling work such as changing shifts and taking sick leave to recuperate. The findings indicate that older health care workers and those with longer service were less likely to report as were those working in the evening and night shifts. Hispanic workers and personnel who had repetitive injuries were prone to under-reporting, as were workers in places that lack proper equipment to move and handle patients. Reasons for under-reporting include the time involved, peer pressure not to report and frustration with workers' compensation procedures.

ORIGINALITY/VALUE:

This study provides insights into under-reporting musculoskeletal injuries in a major US government organization. The research indicates that current reporting procedures appear to be overtly cumbersome in time and effort. More flexible work assignments are needed to cover staff shortfalls owing to injuries. Health education on the detrimental long-term effects of ergonomic injuries and the need for prompt attention to injuries should prove useful in improving rates of reporting.

PMID:
17100218
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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