Hospital work should, theoretically, rank among the safest industries; after all, workers have immediate access to care should a calamity take place. Unfortunately, research indicates otherwise. In fact, individuals employed in hospitals and other medical settings are among the most likely to incur injury while on the job. The question, of course, is why?
Many hospitals have safety protocols in place to address just about any type of potential hazard. But the safeguards are in place for patients, and don't always address how to respond to injured staff. This is because hospital administrators are often so focused on patient care that they don't pay close enough attention to what is going on with their employees.
Hidden cost of patient care
Taking care of patients is hard on the body. Nurses have to reach and sometimes get into unnatural positions to care for people. This is a hidden cost of the job, but nurses are willing to do this just to make sure that their patients have what they need. The overexertion on the body isn't something most workers think about when they are carrying out their job duties.
In fact, almost half of days missed from work in the nursing field come from the bodily impacts to these medical professionals. Most of the injuries in this category are sprains and strains, which likely could be prevented. Roughly eight out of 10 nurses continue working despite having musculoskeletal pain, which can exacerbate injuries.
There are two risks that increase the likelihood of nurses suffering musculoskeletal injuries. First, the nursing workforce is aging. Second, patients are heavier than in past decades because of the obesity epidemic in the United States.
Other hazards are also possible
Other hazards are also present in hospitals. Besides the risk of overexertion, falling or slipping comes in second. This can arise from the conditions of the hospital, including cords and debris strewn about on the floor and exposure to bodily fluids.
Contact with objects and workplace violence are numbers three and four on the list of incidents that can lead to nurses suffering injuries. The contact with objects can come when others around the nurse aren't being cautious or if the nurse runs into something. Patient violence isn't something that should occur, yet does
Ultimately, when a nurse is injured, making a claim for workers' compensation might be necessary. While some nurses will use their sick leave and switch shifts to try to recover from an injury they didn't report, this isn't always wise in case more extensive care or time off work is necessary.