Occupational Health News Roundup

Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Nursing and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine examined data from 71 Illinois and North Carolina hospitals and found that “patient deaths from pneumonia and acute myocardial infarction were significantly more likely in hospitals where nurses reported schedules with long work hours,” reports Laura Walter in EHS Today. (The study itself appears in the January/February issue of Nursing Research.)

During nursing shortages in the 1980s, many hospitals switched nurses from 8-hour shifts to 12-hour shifts, and the pattern has persisted. While many nurses appreciate being able to fit an entire week’s work into a few days, the practice may not be good for patients – or for the nurses themselves. Study author Alison Trinkoff explains that “alertness and vigilance required for providing good nursing care depend upon having an adequate duration of quality sleep and rest.” Walter notes that in a previous study, Trinkoff and colleagues found that a lack of time off contributed to nurse injury.

In other news:

Cleveland Plain Dealer: Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz spent more than a year creating a series of articles on the long-term effects of Agent Orange on the Vietnamese people and on the lives of US war veterans and their families.

USA Today (op-ed): The disturbing trend of violence against healthcare workers may be emblematic of a dysfunctional healthcare system.

McClatchy Newspapers/Bellingham Herald: US Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr of North Carolina are pushing for disability benefits and healthcare for Marine veterans and their families who say they were harmed by contaminated water at the Camp Lejeune base.

Superbug (a Wired Science Blog): University of Iowa College of Public Health researchers surveyed pig-farm workers and pork producers about MRSA (drug-resistant staph), and found that MRSA infections are occurring among farm workers. Farms reported following some practices that could reduce workers’ risks of infections, but only a small percentage said they tested their barns for the bacteria.

NIOSH Science Blog: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health highlights three campaigns that address noise-induced hearing loss in music venues.