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Musculoskeletal injuries plague nurses after lifting patients

You got into nursing to help people. Perhaps you knew that you would be moving patients around but failed to properly consider the impact it would have on you.

The medical facility in which you work should provide you with the equipment and assistance necessary to lift patients without causing you injury, but things don't always work out as planned. For this reason, musculoskeletal injuries plague the health care industry.

Your risk of injury is higher than other industries

Your employer probably already knows that injuries from lifting patients happen far more often than they should. Even so, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration notes that medical facilities fail to employ the appropriate devices needed to assist you with this task.

Out of every 10,000 hospital workers, 75 suffer injuries from lifting patients. Out of every 10,000 residential facility or nursing home workers, 107 suffer the same injuries. That equates to two and three times more than the national average, respectively. Even though the agency has yet to establish industry standards, OSHA felt the problem was bad enough to create a website devoted to it.

Your risk of injury may only increase

You probably already know that the average age of the population is rising. Over the next 10 years, the number of people age 65 or older will only increase. As the population ages, more patients will have mobility issues. This means you will probably lift more and more patients as the years go by.

At the same time, obesity remains a problem as well. Lifting equipment that can raise up to 1,000 pounds, specially made ambulances, specially made beds and surgical tables, and more appear in more medical facilities across the country. Even if you prefer not to use equipment to lift a patient, you may have no choice under certain circumstances.

Would lift-assist equipment make a difference?

OSHA thinks it does. It says that, when medical facilities use lift-assist equipment to move patients, the following happens:

  • Injuries decrease
  • Productivity increases
  • Staff retention rises
  • Workers' compensation claims decrease
  • Time off work for injuries decreases
  • Worker satisfaction increases
  • Work life of staff increases
  • Patient care and satisfaction rise

This may make you want to use such equipment more often, but it doesn't eliminate the possibility of injury during patient transfers. You could still end up suffering a work-related injury while moving a patient. If this happens, you could spend some time recovering. In that case, you should receive workers' compensation benefits to help with your medical and medical-related expenses, along with the income you lose while recovering. Other benefits may also be available based on your circumstances.

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