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Ergonomics in Neonatal Care

Each morning we walk into our office and take a seat in a nice ergonomic task chair that can be adjusted in almost every direction to accommodate our personal preferences and then we adjust our keyboard trays and screens to avoid a repetitive strain injury.  

Ergonomics is important to our productivity and well-being, of which most of us are very diligent in taking preventative measures.

Having worked in healthcare for over 25 years, I have known far too many nurses that have back, shoulder, wrist and many other injuries that have affected them in their career.  Nursing is a physically demanding career and prone to injury when ergonomics is ignored.  Many hospitals now have ergonomists on staff to teach better ergonomics and how to reduce the risks of injury however, a lot of the supplied equipment is not conducive to proper posture or techniques.

Neonatal care is one area that requires innovations to help nursing staff use better ergonomics and techniques.  Unlike other areas of care, nurses in neonatal care spend a lot of time hunched over while they care for their little bundles of joy and in positions that are known to cause back and shoulder pain.  Unlike regular patient beds that are height adjustable; Bassinets, baby baths and incubators are often fixed heights, making the nurses work at the height of the baby, which is usually not optimal for ergonomics. 

I have never been to a NICU or neonatal care unit that all of the nurses are uniformly the same size, shape and height.  Therefore, what is optimal for one, will not necessarily be for the next and someone is working at a less than desirable posture for their full shift.  This is why height-adjustable everything is crucial to the improvement of working conditions in neonatal care.  A nurse will always provide better care without injury or fatigue,  than with!

Have you provided height adjustable bassinets, bathing carts or work tables to your nurses?