Overexertion Injuries in Nursing Homes and Hospitals Top Other Industries
A back or spinal injury can end the nursing or health care career that you have worked hard to achieve. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, manual lifting poses the greatest risk for work related injuries in health care. Nursing accident lawyers can help health care employees with Worker’s Compensation claims for a patient handling injury.
Nursing and Health Care Job Injury Hazards
Transferring and repositioning hospital patients and nursing home residents put experienced and well-trained health care professionals at risk for a variety of injuries including:
- Muscle strain and sprains
- Stress fractures
- Ligament, tendon, and joint injury
Work-related injury is a hazard in facilities where understaffing, long shifts, and time constraints abound. Here are some things you need to know about injuries to nurses and other health workers.
Surprisingly, body weight is not the greatest factor in determining your ability to manually lift a patient or client. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ensuring safety in manual patient lifting depends on several other factors.
- Is the patient combative or resistant or experiencing tremors or muscle spasms?
- Is the patient able to follow instructions you give during lifting and transferring?
- Is the patient able to perform weight-bearing movements with minimal support from a nurse or aide?
Further, the maximum recommended lifting capacity for many occupations, including health care is between 35 and 50 pounds, far below what most patients weigh.
Handling Patients Safely
Nursing and patient care staff can find themselves with many tasks to complete in a short amount of time. Cutting corners on personal safety may seem like an easy solution but can result in sudden or worsening injuries over time. Take the time to be mindful of your work conditions and how you get things done. Here are some tips to remember to help prevent a patient handling injury.
- Keep the patient care area free of clutter
- Use equipment to assist with lifts and transfers
- Focus on good body mechanics
- Ergonomics is key
A clutter-free work area helps reduce the risk of slipping or falling for both the worker and the patient. Hospitals, nursing homes, and other health care facilities have lift devices to help lift and move patients. These are not just for bariatric patients. Anyone providing patient care should have access to and be trained in the proper use of patient lift devices. Good body mechanics means taking a few extra steps to pick up something rather than trying to reach too far and straining a muscle. Prevent foot and leg injuries with ergonomic shoes. Back and posture supports can be valuable for CNAs who lift patients.
Special Considerations for Home Health Care Workers
Home health workers face some extra challenges when trying to prevent injuries. First, lift devices are not an option in most home care settings. Second, driving to multiple clients during a day, and getting into or out of a vehicle, can cause fatigue and injury to your neck, back, shoulders, hips, and legs. Finally, walking and climbing stairs to reach a client’s residence is another source of potential injury for therapists, aides, and nurses. Health care professionals can minimize personal injury risk by:
- Using elevators and ramps to enter apartment buildings or homes that have accessible equipment.
- Slowing down on stairs. Avoid running up or down to reduce shock to legs and feet.
- Wearing proper shoes and clothing and using body, wrist, and ankle supports.
Help for Nursing Accidents and Injuries
If you are a nurse, CNA, therapist, or patient care worker and have been injured, you might want to take a personal or vacation day to relax. Next, you may want to make an appointment with your primary care doctor for a wellness check-up. Also, you can talk with your supervisor or human resources department about your job hazards, and ask them to work with you to find ways to minimize overexertion and fatigue. Finally, if your injuries are interfering with your ability to continue working, causing disruptions in your life away from work, or have resulted in a disability, you may want to contact an attorney to find out what your rights are. You can schedule a consultation with a nursing accident lawyer at Vorhees Law Office LLC by calling (908) 200-2297 to determine if you have an injury claim or are eligible for Worker’s Compensation.