A recent National Public Radio report puts a spotlight on the many types of injuries people suffer in the health care industry – often due to moving and lifting heavy patients.
The NPR report suggests that hospitals are essentially ignoring the problem.
For instance, an American Hospital Association lobbyist tells NPR, in response to a question about whether injuries among nursing staff should be seen as an important issue:
“Well, you know, I do think it’s an issue we have to … look at. Do I think it’s the most important issue we have to look at? No, I don’t.”
Lifting Patients Raises Risk of Hospital Worker Injuries
According to the NPR report, it is not uncommon for nursing assistants or nurses to have to turn or lift patients who weigh 250 to 300 pounds more than a dozen times during a single work shift.
Nursing professionals speaking in the report say they have suffered back and spine injuries, shoulder and elbow injuries and chronic pain. For some, their occupational injuries have been career-ending.
“Nursing assistants and orderlies each suffer roughly three times the rate of back and other musculoskeletal injuries as construction laborers,” NPR states.
According to 2013 Bureau of Labor Statistics figures, nursing assistants suffered the highest number of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among occupational groups. In fact, MSDs accounted for 53 percent of all injuries that caused nursing assistants to miss a day or more of work.
“Workers who sustained MSDs required a median of 11 days to recuperate before returning to work, compared with eight days for all types of cases,” the BLS states.
Musculoskeletal disorders affect the muscles, nerves and tendons. According to OSHA, work-related MSDs (including those of the neck, upper extremities and lower back) are one of the leading causes of lost-workday injury and illness.
Risk factors include lifting heavy items, bending, reaching overhead, pushing and pulling heavy loads, working in awkward body postures and performing the same or similar tasks repetitively, OSHA states.
According to a 2013 OSHA report, a hospital is one of the most hazardous places to work. Hospitals have a higher rate of “days away” injury cases than construction, manufacturing or private industry as a whole, the report states, adding that hospital workers experience injuries at nearly three times the rate of workers in professional and business services.
As OSHA reports, typical hospital worker injuries include:
- Sprains and strains
- Soreness / pain
- Cuts and punctures
- Exposure to communicable diseases.
Injured Hospital Workers Can Seek Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Workers suffering injuries that require them to miss work typically turn to workers’ compensation benefits for assistance with medical bills and lost income.
Hospital workers’ claims may be more complicated because many hospitals, particularly those owned by large conglomerates, are self-insured and may have special processes in place for filing claims.
In a few cases, if the injury has been caused by negligence on the part of a vendor or contractor working at the hospital, the injured worker may be able to seek compensation through a third-party personal injury claim.
If you are hospital worker who has been hurt on the job, contact attorney Frank M. Eidson. Our law firm helps workers in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida to pursue workers’ compensation benefits they deserve. We offer a free initial consultation, and our clients pay no legal fees unless they obtain the benefits they deserve.