New nurses at higher risk for workplace injury

Newly minted nurses are more likely to be injured on the job than nurses with more experience, according to a study published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.

The risk is associated with long work hours and higher-than-average workloads, according to the study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded RN Work Project.

"New nurses experience many stressors, both physical and psychological, in their new professional roles," said principal investigator Chrstine Kovner, Ph.D., R.N. "Interventions that reduce those stressors not only increase nurses' safety, but also improve quality of care."

Among the study findings:

  • Nurses who work nights and more than eight hours of overtime per week received more strains and needle-stick injuries than nurses who don't.
  • Nurses who work the night shift, have a higher-than-average workload and who are in poor health, received more strains and sprains.
  • Nurses younger than 30 with a workload higher than average and less ability to work independently received more needle-stick injuries.

More research is needed to understand how to reduce injury rates, since most newly licensed nurses work 12-hour shifts as well as weekend overtime, researchers said.

Earlier research showed that the risk of workplace injury for nursing staff is higher than for police officers, correctional officers and construction workers.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has already said it plans to crack down on hospitals to reduce healthcare workplace injuries. Plans include monitoring how hospitals try to reduce injuries from lifting patients and possibly fining hospitals that don't comply.

For more:
- here's the study
- read the NYU article