Study warns computer use may lead to injuries among health care workers

December 12, 2012

Ithaca, NY – The shift toward electronic medical records may result in more musculoskeletal injuries among doctors and nurses, concludes a study from Cornell University.

A survey of 179 physicians found that the most common repetitive strain injuries were neck, shoulder, and upper and lower back pain, which were reported by the majority of women and more than 40 percent of men. A similar share – roughly 40 percent of women and 30 percent of men – reported right-wrist injuries, according to a university press release.

Researchers speculated the gender difference was partly due to women spending an hour more on the computer each day than men.

In a second study of health care workers in the same health system, respondents said they spent an average of more than five hours a day using computers. Although many workers said their computer use had increased in the past year, only about 5 percent had “expert knowledge” of ergonomics and more than 66 percent said they had no control over the planning or design of their workstation.

The studies were presented in October at the 56th annual meeting of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.