Impact of a Safe Resident Handling Program in Nursing Homes on Return-to-Work and Re-injury Outcomes Following Work Injury

Purpose: This study examined the impact of a Safe Resident Handling Program (SRHP) on length of disability and re-injury, following work-related injuries of nursing home workers. Resident handling-related injuries and back injuries were of particular interest. Methods: A large national nursing home corporation introduced a SRHP followed by three years of training for 136 centers. Lost-time workers' compensation claims (3 years pre-SRHP and 6 years post-SRHP) were evaluated. For each claim, length of first episode of disability and recurrence of disabling injury were evaluated over time. Differences were assessed using Chi square analyses and a generalized linear model, and “avoided” costs were projected. Results: The SRHP had no impact on length of disability, but did appear to significantly reduce the rate of recurrence among resident handling-related injuries. As indemnity and medical costs were three times higher for claimants with recurrent disabling injuries, the SRHP resulted in significant “avoided” costs due to “avoided” recurrence. Conclusions: In addition to reducing overall injury rates, SRHPs appear to improve long-term return-to-work success by reducing the rate of recurrent disabling injuries resulting in work disability. In this study, the impact was sustained over years, even after a formal training and implementation program ended. Since back pain is inherently a recurrent condition, results suggest that SRHPs help workers remain at work and return-to-work.

Source: Kurowski, A., Pransky, G. et Punnett, L. (2018). Journal of occupational rehabilitation.

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