Health Hazard Evaluation Report HETA 99-0093-2749, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey St. Peter's University Hospital Piscataway, New Jersey.
On February 1, 1999, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) received a request from the Safety Manager of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey for a health hazard evaluation (HHE). The request stated that ultrasound technologists at one of the University's antenatal testing units were experiencing neck, shoulder, and arm pain from performing trans-abdominal and trans-vaginal sonograms on pregnant women. On March 9-11, 1999, NIOSH representatives conducted a site visit at St. Peter's University Hospital, where the antenatal unit is located. The investigation included videotape analysis of several ultrasound procedures and distribution of a musculoskeletal disorders symptom questionnaire/body map to the ultrasound technologists. Physical stresses associated with the performance of trans-abdominal and trans-vaginal sonograms included awkward postures of the shoulder and wrist, long reaches, sustained static forces, and pinch grips. Many of the factors associated with physical stress to the workers were related to the design and lack of adjustability of work station components and equipment. The hospital employee health staff had previously conducted a thorough examination of the musculoskeletal health status of the sonographers prior to the NIOSH evaluation, which had documented shoulder and hand disorders. Body map discomfort diagrams were received from six ultrasonographers present during the NIOSH site visit; five out of six reported some neck or right shoulder and arm discomfort.