Nurses: You’ve Been LIED to about your Back and Body Mechanics - page 4

It starts in nursing school. The lie is perpetrated by management in just about every facility. They say they care about your health, your back, but is it true? Unfortunately, it is not. Many... Read More

  1. by   brandy1017
    Quote from Libby1987
    Bedside nursing seems to have increasing physical demands and that strong and fit might start being a marketable quality in this competitive job market with increasingly common obesity. I can see a fit male having an advantage in both consideration and compensation, from an employer's perspective that would be less costly than extra staff and installed equipment.
    Men can and will be injured just as easily as women caregivers. Do you think men want to be called upon to lift all the time. I'm sure most will tell you they don't want to become primary lifters and have back pain too already!

    Being physically fit doesn't change the fact that excess lifting damages the spine. As others have pointed out you can't be in the perfect lift mode when you have to bend over the bed to reach the patient and happens especially when someone is in a bariatric bed.

    As others have pointed out, bending causes back pain even without lifting. So you don't even have to lift to have back pain. You can raise the bed to try to avoid bending, but sometimes it doesn't always help.

    In the old days at least most incontinent and bariatric patients had foleys which helped immensely. It is really much harder to be a bedside nurse these days from the foley free to the increasingly massively obese patients we get on a regular basis! Physical fitness will not protect you from that if anything it will only give you a false sense of security!
  2. by   martymoose
    Has anyone ever given it any thought that since we're a dime a dozen, employer can just go out and get new workers?
    Ask anyone who has injuries( comp) and they will tell you how difficult it is to prove you got injured at work.
    No, you have the working"lame" who continue to work and are put at further risk.
  3. by   Lynda Lampert, RN
    Quote from jrwest
    Has anyone ever given it any thought that since we're a dime a dozen, employer can just go out and get new workers?
    Ask anyone who has injuries( comp) and they will tell you how difficult it is to prove you got injured at work.
    No, you have the working"lame" who continue to work and are put at further risk.
    The nurse I talked to who went through so much with her back had a terrible time with Workmen's Comp. That's another article, too. She was basically bullied into going back to work when she didn't feel 100 percent about her back. Unfortunately, she can't work the bedside anymore, and she was likely replaced with someone younger and cheaper. Newer nurses are not as willing to stand up for their rights and their health, though. Susan, the nurse I talked to, said that she eventually stopped jumping in when lifts were in progress, choosing to take a leg rather than the upper body.

    It's a widespread problem, and facilities would rather replace nurses than put out the money for mechanical assistive devices.
  4. by   macawake
    Quote from Lynda Lampert, RN
    .
    Lift with your knees and not your back has been drilled into nurses as often as patient safety comes first. Just follow these body mechanics rules, and you will protect your back, nurses are told. The only problem is that it isn’t true, and everyone but nurses knows all about it.

    You’ve been lied to when you were told body mechanics will protect your back.

    I honestly don't feel like I've been lied to. How I interpret the message of using correct body mechanics when lifting is that if you lift weights with straight legs and a bent back you are absolutely guaranteed to hurt your back sooner or later (probably sooner). I don't interpret it as meaning that using correct body mechanics magically protects my back from injury regardless of how heavy the object/person that I'm attempting to lift is.

    I've been lifting weights for twenty years and I'm extremely strong for a woman. I've never had any aches, pains or injuries related to lifting (knock on wood ) either at the gym or at work. I personally believe that strong core muscles are extremely important for protection when lifting. Another thing worth remembering, often when it comes to lifting it isn't the muscles that are the weakest point, but tendons and ligaments.

    I'm curious where the 35 lbs safe limit comes from? I find it hard to believe that there's one definitive number that's safe regardless of the physical characteristics of an individual's body. I can bench press 90% of my body weight but I wouldn't want to lift that weight a zillion times per shift. Too many repetitions and wear and tear. But I do believe that I can safely manage more than 35 pounds without risking injury.

    OP, I do agree that various lifting devices are valuble and sometimes necessary for heavier lifting, and heavy is in my opinion defined on an individual basis. However, I don't think that saying using proper body mechanics when lifting protects your back, is a lie. It does, it's just that it has a (weight) limit. When you've reached your personal limit, it no longer offers adequate protection.
  5. by   Farawyn
    Quote from Lynda Lampert, RN
    The nurse I talked to who went through so much with her back had a terrible time with Workmen's Comp. That's another article, too. She was basically bullied into going back to work when she didn't feel 100 percent about her back. Unfortunately, she can't work the bedside anymore, and she was likely replaced with someone younger and cheaper. Newer nurses are not as willing to stand up for their rights and their health, though. Susan, the nurse I talked to, said that she eventually stopped jumping in when lifts were in progress, choosing to take a leg rather than the upper body.

    It's a widespread problem, and facilities would rather replace nurses than put out the money for mechanical assistive devices.
    I wonder if any nurse feels 100% about his/her back.
    I was out for a back injury, 3 herniated disks, I didn't write up an incident report and no comp. Once I went to PT I got better. I was out for a month and burned all my time.
  6. by   Anna Flaxis
    ......
    Last edit by Anna Flaxis on Mar 31, '15
  7. by   Lynda Lampert, RN
    I think lifting under weight lifting circumstances is different than the lifting we do as nurses. You have a strong core. You work one group of muscles at a time. You are not working under awkward body positions. Safety equipment is in place for heavy lifting. Your ability to lift 90 percent of your body weight is under particular circumstances. It isn't the circumstances of a nurse moving a patient from cart to bed.

    In addition, I'm sure you are 100 percent fit, and not all nurses are. Even fit, you are still doing harm to your discs. In fact, you may have a disc rupture that is asymptomatic. Lifting in a gym and lifting as a nurse are two different things, and the latter is dangerous. It is a lie because we are told body mechanics is the best way. Not the guaranteed way, but the best way to protect you back. Mechanical devices are only given a cursory mention, and everyone is taught body mechanics that DON'T have any scientific backing.

    As for the 35 pound rule, I'm not sure where it comes from. I believe looking into the origin of that number would be beyond the scope of this article, but it has been confirmed by two experts who have published research on this issue. It would be safe to assume that they know what they are talking about, despite how unbelievable the number sounds. I thought it was unbelievable, too, until I did the interviews and it was confirmed.

    Again, maybe body mechanics are better than nothing, but that doesn't make them safe. They are a placebo, a lie, and something that facilities are ignoring because it will cost them money. Hasn't anyone wondered why 11 states have laws against manual lifting in health care facilities? It's because it is a problem and the way we are doing it now isn't safe.
  8. by   Farawyn
    Not a placebo or a lie. A band aid.
  9. by   Gail Powell-Cop
    Loma Linda VA hospital reduces worker injuries from moving patients with new initiative VA hospital reduces worker injuries from moving patients - Modern Healthcare via @modrnhealthcr
  10. by   Gail Powell-Cop
    Here is an overview of the origins of the 35 lb lifting guidance put out by NIOSH. This piece is written by Guy Fragala - an ergonomist who has been in the field for probably 30 years. Very well known and well respected.

    http://library.constantcontact.com/d...ing+Limits.pdf
  11. by   Farawyn
    Quote from Anna Flaxis
    ......

    Yea, just putting in my 2 cents.
  12. by   Lynda Lampert, RN
    Quote from Gail Powell-Cop
    Loma Linda VA hospital reduces worker injuries from moving patients with new initiative VA hospital reduces worker injuries from moving patients - Modern Healthcare via @modrnhealthcr
    This is a great article about how to start a safe lifting program in your hospital. The first step is education, and the second is action. Thanks again, Dr. Powell-Cope!
  13. by   anon456
    Body mechanics actually do work. Obviously there is a right and wrong way to lift someone, and there are weight limits that go beyond any body mechanics.

    When I first started nursing I went home with sore knees because I was protecting my back. I learned to re-do my methods and the sore knees went away and the back is protected. I also started out with sore muscles-- but because I was out of shape and not used to being on my feet and lifting or moving patients. Last night I held a 2 year old on my hip for comfort until he stopped crying. My baby-carrying arm is out of shape since my kids are now older. This was not bad body mechanics, this was my muscles being out of shape.

    On my days off I try to exercise reasonably and stay in shape so I can protect my joints and bones at work. It's the nature of the job.

    I am able to turn a lot of our total care medium sized kids and change them and change out their linens by myself because of good body mechanics. Some are stiff from CP and neuro conditions and easy to do that with. If they are floppy and cannot support their weight, or they are generally too heavy, we round up some nurses (CNA's are not always available-- that's another issue) and we get the job done. The last few nights we had a 60 kg floppy kid who writhed and bent herself in bed, and needed diaper changes every 3 hours. It was a three-person job. We all left injury-free. We use a hoyer lift for some of the patients, too, as needed, for weighing them.

    I have only known of one nurse who has had a serious back injury-- she was one who rarely asked for help even when it was offered.

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