Occupational injuries among aides and nurses in acute care

Am J Ind Med. 2009 Dec;52(12):953-64. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20762.


Background: Occupational injuries are common among nursing personnel. Most epidemiologic research on nursing aides comes from long-term care settings. Reports from acute care settings often combine data on nurses and aides even though their job requirements and personal characteristics are quite different. Our objective was to assess risk of work-related injuries in an acute care setting while contrasting injuries of aides and nurses.

Methods: A retrospective cohort of aides (n = 1,689) and nurses (n = 5,082) working in acute care at a large healthcare system between 1997 and 2004 were identified via personnel records. Workers' compensation filings were used to ascertain occupational injuries. Poisson regression was used to estimate rate ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).

Results: Aides had higher overall injury rates than nurses for no-lost work time (RR = 1.2, 95% CI: 1.1-1.3) and lost work time (RR = 2.8, 95% CI: 2.1-3.8) injuries. The risk of an injury due to lifting was greater among aides compared to nurses for both non-lost work time and lost work time injuries. Injury rates among aides were particularly high in rehabilitation and orthopedics units. Most of the injuries requiring time away from work for both groups were related to the process of delivering direct patient care.

Conclusions: Our findings illustrate the importance of evaluating work-related injuries separately for aides and nurses, given differences in injury risk profiles and injury outcomes. It is particularly important that occupational safety needs of aides be addressed as this occupation experiences significant job growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Occupational / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Moving and Lifting Patients / adverse effects
  • North Carolina
  • Nursing Assistants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nursing Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Nursing Staff, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Safety Management
  • Sick Leave / statistics & numerical data
  • Wounds and Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult