Nurses often lift or reposition patients during their day-to-day work. According to the American Nurses Association, the average adult weighs 169 pounds; however, considering the size of the geriatric population and a rapid increase of obese patients, individual weights can range from 90 to almost 400 pounds.
It is, therefore, not surprising that tasks involving patient handling are said to be the number one cause of musculoskeletal disorders in the nursing workforce.
What causes musculoskeletal disorders?
Nurses can suffer serious injury or develop musculoskeletal disorders due to a variety of on-the-job factors, including:
- Lifting, repositioning and transferring patients
- Supporting larger patients who are unable to stand or walk without help
- Pushing wheelchairs and gurneys, which are already fairly heavy, carrying patients of various weights
- Maintaining awkward body postures while cleaning patients in their beds
Hospitals that have implemented programs to address the ergonomic hazards of patient handling have found the number of injuries and lost work days by their nursing staff decline sharply.
However, if you are not employed by one of the many health care facilities that have reported positive, encouraging results after incorporating assistive patient-handling devices and equipment, you may have suffered damage that can have long-term consequences – both physically and financially. Depending on the level of musculoskeletal damage you have sustained, healing can take a substantial amount of time, during which rehabilitation and medications may prove to be extremely costly.
Have you suffered injury or developed chronic pain?
If you are the victim of chronic pain that resulted from years of caring for others, you may need help to prove that your condition is work-related when seeking compensation to assist with medical costs. Employers who fail to address the hazards that cause these injuries may also disregard early warning signs of more serious injuries reported to them.
With the support and guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney, you may successfully pursue benefits that would provide not only financial assistance but also peace of mind.