Nurses and aides that work in medical facilities face a lot of occupational hazards. Violence from patients with dementia or those under the influence of drugs, handling dangerous materials and equipment, or exposure to pathogens and environmental risks can all cause injuries or illnesses for medical workers.
However, the leading cause of injury to people who work in hospitals actually relates to pushing the body past its limits. Back injuries, soft tissue injuries and joint injuries can occur when nurses attempt to lift too much or otherwise overexert themselves. Lifting and moving patients is often the cause of these injuries.
Lifting and moving patients is a part of the job
Lifting patients is often a critical part of care. Individuals with reduced mobility may need assistance with everything from going to the bathroom to getting dressed. Nurses and hospital aides help patients, in part, by providing physical assistance with movement.
Unfortunately, doing so can substantially increase the risk of injury by a nurse or medical worker. Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to limit the risk of injury to yourself when you have to manually lift or move a patient.
Respect your body’s limits and the parameters of the situation
Safe lifting requires that you can lift with your legs, not your back. Usually, this requires a very specific grip and stance. You may not have flexibility when it comes to lifting patients. You may also have to lift them from a difficult or precarious position, such as in a wet spot on the floor after a slip.
Many situational factors can increase your risk of injury. That is why you should always take a second when you need to lift a patient for any unplanned reason. Check for any issues that could affect safety. Try to determine if you can safely lift the patient on your own.
It is always better to err on the side of caution and call for assistance in lifting a patient rather than to risk injuring yourself and potentially dropping the patient. In some cases, there is equipment that can help with lifts. However, such equipment may take time to move or operate. Nurses may not feel like they have the option of waiting, which can lead them to press harder than their bodies can handle.
Workers’ compensation protects nurses and hospital workers hurt lifting patients
California workers’ compensation has relatively thorough protections in place for employees. Any sort of injury suffered as a direct result of job responsibilities typically receives coverage through California’s workers’ compensation program.
The insurance offered through workers’ compensation will cover your medical expenses related to your injury. It can also offer you temporary or permanent disability depending on the severity of the injury that you suffer. However, you need to take steps after an injury to connect with those benefits. Educating yourself should be the first step you take.