Every day, hospital nursing staff are required to help lift and move heavy patients, and unfortunately they are in danger of eventually being included in some very disturbing statistics. The Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has determined that every year hospital nursing employees sustain approximately 35,000 back and other injuries. A disabling injury can result in long periods of missed work and even the end of a nursing career. Hospitals often deny benefits for various reasons, and this is why there is a need for workers’ compensation lawyers.
National Public Radio (NPR) did an excellent job of bringing the subject of lifting injuries among hospital personnel to public attention with the production of a series of programs on the topic. Please click here and here to read about a couple of specific cases.
When it comes to musculoskeletal impairments, orderlies and nursing assistants sustain more of these types of injuries than other workers – approximately triple the rate for the construction industry. The routine lifting and moving of patients is responsible for the majority of these injuries.
Nurses are trained to use “proper body mechanics” when lifting patients, but studies have shown that this methodology will not prevent injuries. “The bottom line is, there’s no safe way to lift a patient manually,” states William Marras, who runs Ohio State University’s Spine Research Institute, which has carried out benchmark research on this issue. “The magnitude of these forces that is on your spine is so large that the best body mechanics in the world are not going to keep you from getting a back problem.”
Some hospitals have begun to use a technique known as “safe patient handling.” This is a mechanized methodology involving the use of motorized hoists to lift patients. But unfortunately, hospitals don’t necessarily take the necessary steps to make sure the lifting machine is easily available to nurses when they really need it. The machine might be some distance away in another unit or the lift team members may be off doing other things.
The Hospital Patient and Health Care Worker Injury Protection Act was passed by California in 2012, and obligates hospitals to shield their staff from lifting injuries. As of now, only ten other states have followed California’s example – Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington.
If you are an injured nursing employee and your hospital is denying you benefits, we can assist you to obtain the workers’ compensation you deserve. Please don’t hesitate to talk to us for more information.