Nurses Becoming Patients: Common Healthcare Workers Injuries

Casey Shorts

Healthcare professionals have some of the most important jobs in America. Doctors, nurses and healthcare facility staff provide critical services to patients in hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, hospice centers and in-home treatment. Additionally, the healthcare field is one of the fastest growing job markets in America.

Unfortunately, healthcare workers are one of the most at-risk professions for suffering an on-the-job injury as tasks can be physically demanding and take a toll on the worker’s body. In addition to the physical demands, healthcare workers are often injured accidentally by patients, co-workers, or common hazards associated with the healthcare field. According to the CDC, cases for non-fatal occupational injuries and illnesses are higher among healthcare workers than among workers in any other industry sector. While the healthcare field involves a variety of different jobs, ranging from administrators, certified nursing assistants, home care aids, registered nurses, physician assistance, and orthopedic surgeons, all in the field share certain risks that increase the chances of an on-the-job injury.

Some of the top causes of injury in the healthcare field include:

  • Occupational exposure/repetitive stress Healthcare workers are seven times more likely to develop musculoskeletal disorders compared with workers in other industries. Nursing aids and attendants have the highest risk of musculoskeletal disorders. These disorders develop over years of performing arduous tasks, such as lifting/aiding patients into beds, repeatedly grasping and performing strenuous tasks with hospital equipment, and consistent exposure to chemicals. Surgeons and their staff are also at high-risk for musculoskeletal disorders from long hours of standing while performing surgeries and procedures.

  • Traumatic InjuriesOften, healthcare workers are injured while handling patients, such as manually lifting a patient while transferring them to a bed, re-positioning them in a bed, aiding them into a wheel chair, or helping a patient sit upright. Other traumatic injuries include:
    • Healthcare workers routinely use needles and sharp medical instruments and sustain accidental cuts or punctures to their own skin while treating a patient.
    • Healthcare workers may be assaulted at work as patients, their families or friends pose risks of violence. Hospital workers are especially in danger as criminals may be placed in hospitals while on a criminal hold. Hospitals and clinics are also robbery targets because of the presence of pharmaceutical drugs within a hospital’s pharmacy.
    • Healthcare workers commonly suffer slip and fall injuries at work.Slippery substances such as water, food, and bodily fluids all pose a danger that may cause a healthcare worker to slip and fall on the floor of a hospital or clinic.
    • Many hospitals, nursing homes and clinics are understaffed as a result of budget cuts. Under-staffing increases the risk of injury because of the pressure to work faster and without adequate support in assisting with patients.

Common types of work injuries suffered by healthcare workers include:

  • Soft tissue injuries – Sprains and strains are the most frequently reported injury among healthcare workers. Most strains and sprains occur to the worker’s shoulders and low back.

  • Herniated/bulging discs Body mechanics and movements combined with the weight of transferring or lifting patients commonly cause damage to the worker’s vertebral discs.

  • Infectious diseases Healthcare workers sustain needle sticks increasing the risk of incurring blood-borne diseases such as HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis B or C. Healthcare workers also commonly incur infections from airborne pathogens or exposure to a patient’s mucus and bodily fluids/waste.

  • Orthopedic injuriesFractures or torn ligaments commonly result from workplace violence, manipulating hospital equipment, and slip and falls.

If you are a healthcare worker and suffer an injury at work, you are likely entitled to worker’s compensation benefits. Often your employer’s worker’s compensation insurance will cover your medical costs, a significant portion of your lost wages, and compensate you for any permanent disability experienced as a cause of the work injury. However, at some point, your employer’s insurance company may choose to contest the work-relatedness and extent of your injury and eventually deny your injuries as work-related. If you have general questions on the worker’s compensation system, or if you have been denied worker’s compensation benefits, please contact The Previant Law Firm.

For over 100 years, The Previant Law Firm has been fighting hard for working people like you. If you have been injured and have questions regarding a worker’s compensation claim, please contact The Previant Law Firm as soon as possible. Call (414) 240-1185 or visit our website, the initial consultation is free.