Lifting Injuries Common in Nursing
August 20, 2018
It has long been recognized that nursing professionals face many challenges in their work. A lot rides on their shoulders. Providing care can be emotionally and physically draining, and they often work long hours and shifts that require a readjustment of sleeping habits. Fortunately, in recent years there has been more focus on making the job easier for nurses. Not only is that better for the nurses themselves, but also for the patients they care for.
One of the most common challenges nurses may deal with every day is lifting patients. Nurses routinely lift infirm patients into and out of bed, chairs, and more. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nurses report over 35,000 back and other lifting-related injuries every year – and these are injuries that are serious enough to miss work. Surprisingly, nurses face an even greater risk of injury than workers in fields that involve only physical labor, including construction and factory work.
Although nurses and nursing assistants are taught techniques to reduce the risk of injury, those techniques do not always help. Even when using proper body mechanics, bending at the knees and the hips, and keeping the back straight, lifting patients causes enormous strain to the spine.
Why Are Lifting Injuries So Common?
There are certain circumstances that increase the injury risk of lifting. When a nurse repeats the same movement over and over, this repetition can create small tears in the plates that send nutrients to disks in the back. This leads to scar tissue that halts the flow of nutrients, causing disks to deteriorate faster. When a nurse has to lift a patient from their bedside, the distance puts greater stress on the body. Even when nurses bend at the knee to lift, any bending movement can change the way weight is distributed, causing intense strain on the spine.
Even when team lifting is employed, there can still be excessive strain on a nursing worker’s body. First, there are not always enough staff members available to create a lift team at a moment’s notice. Sometimes a patient needs to be lifted immediately in a life-or-death situation, so nurses and nursing assistances must mobilize with no time to wait. And, with a team, not everyone is able to carry the same amount of weight, and so a patient’s weight can be distributed unevenly. This can cause injuries to those who are carrying the greatest of weight, or during moments when the weight shifts.
Despite the large numbers of nurses and nursing assistances that are injured every year, hospitals are not doing enough to prevent those injuries. By the time they are ready to retire – and sometimes long before – many in the nursing profession deal with chronic pain. Although having a plan in place and using lift techniques can reduce the number of injuries, there are other things hospitals can do. For example, mechanical lift equipment can reduce the burden to some degree, eliminating some of the danger. It may be expensive to accommodate every unit and department, but it is worth it in terms of preventing a lifetime of pain for nurses and others working in the health care industry.
Reading Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Help Healthcare Workers Recover Benefits for Lifting Injuries
Our compassionate, hard-working legal team handles cases throughout Pennsylvania, including Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County. Our goal is always your financial security and peace of mind. Please call a Reading workers’ compensation lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. at 888-PITT-LAW or contact us online for a free consultation.