Nurses in Danger: Part Two
When Megan’s back gave out while lifting a large patient, the first thing she thought of once she had the pain under control was “How many other nurses has this happened to?” She knew of at least three nurses on her floor who had suffered a similar injury at one point in their careers. All of her nurse friends knew of someone who had suffered some type of trauma when lifting a large patient or when a patient’s body shifted unexpectedly while being moved.
But are nursing injuries, especially those caused by lifting patients, truly as prevalent as they seemed to be to Megan and her colleagues?
What Causes Nurses’ Workplace Injuries?
While a recent spike in violence against nurses has, rightfully, gotten many headlines in the past few years, other causes continue to make up the bulk of workplace nursing injuries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the most common causes of injuries to nurses and other caregivers include:
- 48 percent – Overexertion and bodily reaction, including lifting injuries
- 25 percent – Slips, trips and falls
- 13 percent – Contact with objects
- 9 percent – Violence
- 4 percent – Exposure to substances
- 1 percent – All other causes
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) believes there is a clear reason why so many health care workers, including nurses, suffer workplace injuries. As shown above, these workers are at a far greater risk of overexertion (typically lifting) injuries:
“The single greatest risk factor for overexertion injuries in health care workers is the manual lifting, moving and repositioning of patients, residents or clients, i.e., manual patient handling.”
Think of how many times nurses such as Megan need to move patients. Every time a move is required, workers are at risk of a lifting injury. The risk is so great that compared with the average full-time worker in any industry in the United States, health care workers are more likely to suffer these injuries at the following rates:
- Nurses: Twice as likely to suffer a lifting injury
- Nursing home workers: Three times as likely to suffer a lifting injury
- Ambulance workers: More than five times as likely to suffer a lifting injury
A Nurse’s Next Move
No matter what the numbers show, Mega knew one thing – she was hurt, and she needed help. She needed to make sure that her injuries were treated, that she was able to cover her medical bills and any other related expenses, and that she wasn’t rushed back to work and the injury made worse.
Even though she was well-versed in medical terminology and treatment options, Megan needed help with the logistics of filing for workers’ compensation and making sure she was treated fairly by the workers’ comp system.