When you think of physically laborious jobs, certainly construction work would be in the top five. But many people may be surprised to learn that in comparison to construction workers, nursing assistants suffer nearly three times as many musculoskeletal injuries on the job.
In fact, mostly because of the lifting involved with their care of patients, nurse's aides suffer more injuries than workers in any other industries.
Injuries end nursing careers
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that annually, those in the nursing profession suffer over 35,000 injuries serious enough to take time off of work.
For some of the injured nurse's aides, those injuries will be severe and permanent enough to keep them from ever working as a nurse's aide in a hospital environment again.
Hospitals overlook injuries
In the past, hospital administrators have given short shrift to the injuries suffered by nurse's aides. The author of Nursing Against the Odds commented that "[t]oo many hospital administrators see nursing staff as second-class citizens. Historically, hospital administrators have viewed nurses as a disposable labor force."
When nurses' injuries are not a priority and it is easier to replace the workers than to take responsibility for repairing the damage, it is always the workers who suffer. Having to leave the workforce at a relatively young age and get by on benefits sets them up for a lifetime of challenges.
The technology is available
What is maddening is that technology has existed for many years to safely move patients in a hospital setting without unduly straining the nursing staff. Safe patient handling techniques used by the Department of Veterans Affairs in their medical centers and also at Florida's Baptist Health System in Florida include using motorized hoists to lift patients.
These machine hoists are similar to factory machinery used to lift heavy components.
The conventional wisdom behind patient-lifting techniques, i.e., straighten your back and bend with your knees, is not supported by much governmental and university research.
As stated by the director of the Spine Research Institute at Ohio State University, "The bottom line is, there's no safe way to lift a patient manually. The magnitude of these forces that are on your spine are so large that the best body mechanics in the world are not going to keep you from getting a back problem."
Are you sidelined by a work-related back injury?
You worked hard for your nurse's assistant certification. Perhaps you returned to school as a single parent and worked while attending night classes. That certification was the culmination of your career aspirations. You loved interacting with your patients and tending to their needs.
But since your injury, you can no longer carry out your duties and your employment opportunities have dried up. You don't know what the future holds for you.
You have the right to seek compensation for your injuries and other damages you suffered as a result of your workplace injury. Learn more about how you can pursue a claim for damages.