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Are you a nurse? Does your employer consider you expendable?

In a healthcare setting, nurses fulfill many vital roles in helping treat and care for patients. Nurses also have the most contact with patients and are therefore often responsible for helping patients dress, move and walk. Throughout the course of a work day, a nurse may help stabilize, support and lift numerous patients. Given the physical requirements of the nursing profession, it's no surprise that many nurses suffer work injuries including those to the back.

A recent investigation by National Public Radio looked at the issue of workplace safety for individuals in the nursing profession and uncovered disturbing examples of mistreatment and fraud at hospitals throughout the country.

For example, a 20-year veteran nurse relayed how her employer refused to admit that her debilitating back injuries were work related. After suffering a back injury while helping lift a patient, the 45-year-old nurse reported her injury to her hospital employer. An attorney for the hospital subsequently informed the nurse that her injuries were likely the result of “lifting a dinner casserole out of her oven.”

Not only was the veteran nurse's workers' compensation claim denied, but she was also deemed unfit to work and was subsequently fired by her employer. Similar cases in which hospital employers fail to protect nurses from suffering injuries or to acknowledge that their injuries are work-related have been documented across the country.

Today, hospitals can help prevent lifting injuries by investing in equipment like ceiling hoists. However, many hospitals fail to invest in such equipment and to make the health and safety of their nurses a priority, thereby putting nurses at risk of suffering painful and debilitating back and other types of injuries.

San Diego area nurses who have suffered an injury while performing work-related duties are entitled to workers' compensation. In cases where a nurse's claim for workers' compensation benefits is denied or is insufficient, it's wise to consult with an attorney who can take on the insurance company and fight to help recover the maximum amount of allowable compensation.

Source: NPR.org, "Hospital To Nurses: Your Injuries Are Not Our Problem," Daniel Zwerdling, Feb. 25, 2015

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