Year of Publication



Public Health

Date Available


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Terry Bunn, PhD

Committee Member

David Mannino, MD

Committee Member

T. Scott Prince, MD, MPH



The healthcare industry continues to have a high number of reported injuries. The purpose of this study was to 1) characterize healthcare industry injuries by patient contact status; 2) identify the occupations associated with healthcare injuries by patient contact status; and 3) determine healthcare injury rates by occupation, to gain a better understanding of healthcare industry compensated injuries , and better target healthcare industry safety practices and programs.


Workers’ Compensation first reports of injuries (FROI) from the healthcare industry in Kentucky were categorized into injuries involving in direct patient contact vs. injuries without direct patient contact using narrative text analysis. Injury numbers and rates were calculated for a number of data variables.


Among 11,204 FROIs analyzed, 45% were determined to involve direct patient contact. Sprain injuries accounted for the majority of injuries (5,671); 66% of sprain injuries involved direct patient contact. Healthcare support staff had the highest incidence rate for reported injuries at 32.2 per 1000 support staff employees in 2013. The highest number of direct patient contact injuries occurred in nursing care facilities. General medical and surgical hospitals were locations of most injuries without direct patient contact.


Study findings can be used to increase awareness for Kentucky healthcare workers’ safety. While patient care is a risk factor associated with injury, our study shows that many injuries occur outside the scope of direct patient care. It’s important to understand the work elements in the healthcare industry to target prevention strategies and provide a safe work environment.

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