In my 30 plus years practicing law, I have had the pleasure of representing many nurses and healthcare professionals in their workers’ compensation claims, some of the most difficult times in their lives. Given the ongoing pandemic, nurses continue to be one of the most essential front-line occupations in our country. In addition to those risk factors, there have been many reports uncovering the staggering injury rates for nurses. There are few things that all workers in the nursing field should know when it comes to injuries at work.
- Nursing is one of the most accident-prone occupations. Nursing has higher rates of injury than construction and law enforcement. Some of the most common injuries that orderlies, nursing assistants, personal care aids and registered nurses experience are: torn rotator cuffs, sprains and strains, joint injuries and herniated discs.
Approximately 35,000 back and other injuries occur among nursing employees every year, severe enough that they have to miss work. Many of these injuries occur from the daily activity of lifting or moving patients.
- There is NO safe way to lift a patient. Though nursing programs still teach the proper body mechanics to lift patients – a 100-year-old technique – it can still cause enormous stress on their bodies. There are no limitations of the amount of weight nursing employees can lift; 90 percent are women. In contrast, factory workers – who are 93 percent men – are prohibited from lifting more than 35 lbs.
- Hospitals and employers are not investing in nurses’ safety. Lifting equipment can be installed in hospitals and other facilities that can prevent any strain on healthcare workers’ bodies. In some hospitals, there was an 80 percent decrease in back injuries once this type of equipment was installed. Some hospitals believe that it would cost more to install these devices and train employees on how to use then than to pay out workers’ compensation benefits to injured nurses.
- There is a culture of fear about reporting injuries in hospitals and other healthcare facilities. Many nurses do not report their injuries for fear of losing their jobs. It is illegal in PA for employers to fire their employees if they file workers’ compensation claims. Nurses should speak to an attorney before filing workers’ comp claims to ensure that their rights are being protected.
- Injuries do not have to be caused by one event. While some nursing professionals suffer one major injury, others develop theirs over time. Carpal tunnel, back pain, shoulder pain and other conditions occur as a result of repetitive movements over time. If these conditions are aggravated or worsened because of your job, these are considered work-related injuries.
If you are a nurse or nursing professional that has been injured at work, click here to chat with us live for a free consultation.