Researchers at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health and the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center published “Healthcare Industry Injuries by Patient Contact Status in Kentucky, 2012–2014” in the October issue of the Southern Medical Journal. The authors are Dr. Kristen Ranzenberger, a graduate of the college’s Master of Public Health program; Dr. Terry Bunn, associate professor in the department of preventive medicine and environmental health and KIPRC director; and Dr. Svetla Slavova, associate professor in the department of biostatistics and faculty at KIPRC.
[Photo: Dr. Terry Bunn (left) and Dr. Svetla Slavova]
The healthcare industry continues to have a high number of reported injuries. The purpose of the study was to characterize healthcare industry injuries by patient contact status, identify the occupations associated with healthcare injuries by patient contact status, and determine healthcare injury rates by occupation to gain a better understanding of healthcare industry-compensated injuries and better target safety practices and programs in the healthcare industry.
Kentucky healthcare industry workers’ compensation first reports of injuries from calendar years 2012-2014 were categorized into injuries involved in direct patient contact versus injuries without direct patient contact using narrative text analysis. Injury numbers and rates were calculated for a number of data variables.
Healthcare injuries without direct patient contact (55 percent of all first reports of injuries) occurred more frequently among older workers (45 years old and older [51 percent]), in “other” occupations such as housekeeping and maintenance (28 percent), and as a result of falls/slips/trips (39 percent) and sprains/tears (38 percent). In contrast, a higher percentage of healthcare injuries involving direct patient contact occurred among workers younger than 35 years (48 percent), in healthcare support occupations (50 percent), and resulting from sprains/tears (66 percent) and lifting/handling (52 percent), compared with those without direct patient contact.
Findings from this study can better target the need for new and/or additional specific workplace safety training, especially in the health care support and nursing occupations with and without patient contact.