The lifting and moving of overweight patients by hospital nursing staff is an occupational hazard and becoming more so with the increase in obesity. Some disquieting statistics published by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that each year hospital nursing employees suffer approximately 35,000 musculoskeletal-type injuries. A serious injury results in missed work and can even mean the end of a treasured nursing career. To make matters worse, hospitals often deny benefits, and this is why there is a need for Columbia Workers’ Compensation attorneys.
National Public Radio (NPR) shone a much-needed spotlight on this situation with a series of programs on the subject. If you would like to read about a couple of case studies, please click here and here.
Nursing Assistants Suffer the Most Workplace Injuries
With reference to back injuries and other musculoskeletal impairments, orderlies and nursing assistants sustain more of them than workers in other fields – about triple the rate for employees in the construction industry. The lifting and moving of patients is the cause of most of these injuries.
Physically Lifting a Patient is Not Safe
Nursing employees are schooled in the use of “proper body mechanics” to lift patients, but research has indicated that this methodology is not safe. “The bottom line is, there’s no safe way to lift a patient manually,” states William Marras, the head of Ohio State University’s Spine Research Institute, which has extensively studied 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.”
How Are Hospitals Reacting?
Recently, several hospitals have embraced a technique labeled “safe patient handling,” a machine-based methodology using motorized hoists to lift patients. But unfortunately, hospitals aren’t taking the necessary steps to ensure that the lifting machine is “on call” to nurses when they really need it. The machine might be at the other end of the hospital in another unit, or the members of the lift team may have been diverted to other duties.
Involvement of State Government
The Hospital Patient and Health Care Worker Injury Protection Act was enacted by the State of California in 2012, and requires that hospitals shield their nursing staff from lifting injuries. Currently, only ten other states have copied California’s example – Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, and Washington.
Columbia Workers’ Compensation Attorneys
If you are a hospital employee who has sustained a back or other musculoskeletal injury and your hospital is denying you benefits, talk to us. We can make sure you receive the workers’ compensation you deserve.