Muscle Pain, Sleep Deprivation, and Back Injuries: Nursing Injuries Eligible for Workers’ Comp
Nurses, nursing assistants, and other healthcare professionals work hard to take care of patients in hospitals and long-term care facilities. They do amazing work and truly make a difference in the world. So, why is it that the care and support they give their patients aren’t always reciprocated?
One of the most important things a workplace can do for its employees is to encourage good health. Unfortunately for healthcare workers, this has long been a struggle. Conflicts between work schedules, patient support, and safety protocols can be dangerous and stressful. Furthermore, overscheduling can cause fatigue, which increases the risk of accidents and injuries. As a result, nurses and nursing assistants suffer more work-related injuries than construction and factory workers combined.
Common Healthcare Hazards
Nursing assistants and nurses have reported suffering many different types of injuries, including:
- Superficial injuries. Many minor injuries result from patients who become aggressive. These include scratches, open wounds, cuts, bites, bruises, and black eyes.
- Strained or pulled muscles. Often come a result of trying to lift or move residents, strained muscles can cause debilitating pain that can prohibit nurses from being able to move, let alone care for patients. There are many things a hospital or nursing home can and should do to assist their staff in handling patients. If your employer has not provided you with lifting assistance and you’re injured on the job, you need help.
- Back pain. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cites that the nursing workforce already experiences a high rate of work-related back injuries and pain, missing more days of work for back issues than any other occupation.
- Sleep deprivation. According to Harvard University’s Division of Sleep Medicine, sleep is one of the most important pillars of health—a pillar that many patient care workers are sacrificing. Research studies have found that not only are tired employees more likely to suffer from workplace injuries, but they are also more likely to experience new and more intense pain than those who get adequate sleep. This effect can limit their ability to perform their work duties and cause further injury to occur.
More Sleep, Less Injury
Unfortunately for healthcare workers, taking care of others usually comes at the cost of neglecting their own needs and health. Rotating shifts, irregular hours, and physically taxing work take a massive toll on the body and mind.
One of the primary effects of a healthcare workers’ stressful schedule is a lack of sleep. Sleep is often moved to the back burner when work and family come into the picture. However, by taking the time and effort to rest properly (at least seven contiguous hours), you can personally decrease your risk for work-related injuries by over 50 percent.
Workplace Protection: The Other 50 percent
According to statistics cited by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, 48 percent of worker’s compensation claims by healthcare workers are the result of overexertion injuries. Expecting one or even two nurses or nursing assistants to help patients out of bed, move them from one bed to another, or turn them over for bathing or minor procedures can lead to back strain and other musculoskeletal injuries. There is, in fact, no safe way for a single worker to move a patient. Furthermore, the need to reach for, push, or pull equipment can also cause serious muscle damage. Therefore, hospitals must provide the following resources to protect their employees:
- Permanent or portable lifts. Patient lifts are devices that resemble a sling chair. Patients are belted in, and the device does the heavy lifting. Most hospitals have mobile, wheeled lifts that can be brought into a patient’s room, but the time and effort it takes to locate and deliver a device often mean that nurses choose not to bother. The convenience of ceiling-mounted devices above every patient bed would increase their usage and provide better protection for nurses.
- Transfer sheets. A frictionless sheet under the patient allows a caregiver to reposition him on the same bed more easily. Sheets or hard boards with handles on the sides allow two or more caregivers to move a patient from one bed to another using safer lifting practices than simply lifting and moving the patient on one’s own.
- Lift teams. A designated team of caregivers trained to safely lift patients can be assigned to complete all lifting and repositioning of patients, saving the nurse from the task. In hospitals where lift teams have been established, back injuries have been reduced by 69 percent.
Let Us Do the Heavy Lifting in Your Worker’s Comp Claim
If you’ve suffered workplace injuries that have caused you excessive pain, you have a potential claim for worker’s compensation. Don’t expect your employer’s insurance company to be generous, however. Although you spend your life caring for others, healthcare insurance companies only know how to care for themselves.
But you don’t have to allow their selfish tactics to weigh you down. When you need a helping hand to lift the weight of your worker’s compensation claim off your shoulders, call the experienced attorneys at the law offices of Steven M. Lee. You have spent your professional life helping others. Let us help you now. For more information on worker’s compensation eligibility and employee rights, feel free to browse our extensive library of blogs, or get your questions answered through our FAQ responses. Always remember, we’re here to help.