Healthcare can be a particularly dangerous job for several reasons. The fast-paced, high-risk environment can lend itself to a variety of work-related injuries from biohazards to needle sticks. However, one of the most common injuries nurses suffer may not be what you think.
Back Injury Statistics
Back injuries and back pain affect approximately 38 percent of nurses in the United States. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked healthcare at the top of processions with the highest risk of back injury, according to the American Journal of Critical Care. Nurses are six times more likely to suffer a back injury and have an increased risk of back pain due to their occupation. Studies show that rates of back injuries in nurses is more than double that of construction workers.
Why Do These Injuries Occur?
While back pain and back injuries might not immediately come to mind when you think of nursing and nursing-related injuries, it’s not hard to see why these injures are more prevalent in this industry.
Nurses are often required to lift and transport patients, which can cause both a direct injury and/or a cumulative injury that builds up with repetitive motion over time. Moving patients from beds to wheelchairs or from hospital chairs to commodes can cause these types of injuries, while workload, posture and work organizational factors can worsen them.
Using proper techniques as well as lifting tools like walking belts and mechanical hoists to aid patient lifting and transferring could help decrease the risk of back pain and injury for nurses.
These types of injuries have a large impact on the nursing workforce both in safety and efficiency. A back injury can sideline an employee for long periods of time and can be expensive to recover from. Educating nurses about proper lifting techniques and properly equipping them may help decrease these risks so they may avoid a debilitating injury.