Nurses in Danger: A Series

Dec 28 2016

Megan, a nurse at a Denver area hospital, started her day just like any other. She got to work, checked out the patient list and the notes from the nurses on the previous shift, and was immediately pulled into helping a patient (Mr. Smith). Mr. Smith was an older man who had been on Megan’s floor for a few days, and he was perfectly pleasant. The only problem was that he was classified as bariatric (weighing approximately 350 pounds), so moving him was quite difficult.

Although the hospital had started to invest in equipment such as hoyers and standers, they weren’t universally available. That meant that any time Mr. Smith needed to be moved, Megan (who only weighed 140 pounds) needed to get help from another nurse.

On this day, Megan and another nurse on the floor were moving Mr. Smith when his leg suddenly shifted. Megan moved quickly to correct for the shift and to keep from dropping Mr. Smith. The next thing she knew, she felt a sharp pain in her back. Once Mr. Smith was in place, Megan hobbled back to the nurses’ station and sat down, but had a hard time even doing that as she was in tremendous pain.

Megan soon realized the unfortunate truth, that she was now one of the thousands of nurses who are hurt on the job in the United States every year.

What Do The Numbers Say About Nurses And Workplace Injuries?

In a publication from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) about worker safety in hospitals, the organization notes that hospitals have a higher rate of injuries that cause time away from work than the construction and manufacturing industries. OSHA also takes care to note that many nurses continue to work through an injury, meaning that the rate of injuries overall is even worse in hospitals than the data suggests.

What Types Of Injuries Are Most Common?

With the vast majority (73 percent) of workplace injuries to nurses involving overexertion or slips, trips and falls, the most common injuries that nurses suffer at work are:

  • Sprains and strains
  • Bruises
  • Soreness and pain
  • Fractures

In 3 percent of reported cases, cuts and punctures can result. Another 3 percent of injuries are classified as multiple trauma, which can include any of the conditions listed above as well as more serious injuries.

People Are Starting To Take Note Of The Dangers Nurses Face Every Day

The problem continues to grow and is slowly gaining national attention. In recent years, for example, National Public Radio (NPR) ran an investigative series about injuries to nurses and the causes of those injuries. Both OSHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recognized the hazardous situations nurses face.

Ready to learn more and find out what happens to Megan next? Check out part two of our Nurses In Danger series.