Nursing can be a rewarding profession, but a dangerous profession. There are many industry-specific injuries that occur in the nursing field as a result of constant patient contact, and repetitive and difficult physical work. If you are a nurse who sustained an injury in the course of your job, you may be entitled to recover for your medical bills and lost wages under state worker’s compensation laws.
Common Nursing Injuries
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that 800,000 nurses and home health aids were injured between 1995 and 2004. During this same period, there were approximately 154 fatalities. Of the approximately 800,000 injured nurses and health aids, 799,004 of those injuries required time off from work to recover.
The most common types of nursing related injuries include:
Muscle sprains, back strains and tears,which accounted for approximately 43% of the nursing related injuries between ’95 and ’04.
Soreness and pain, especially back pain which was reported as the cause of 11% of nursing injuries
Causes of Nursing Injuries
Nurses are responsible for all facets of patient care. This may include lifting heavy patients from one bed to another. Nurses work in busy environments, and often have more patients then they can handle. Furthermore, some nurses are exposed to potentially dangerous patients. All of these things can cause labor-related injuries that are compensable under worker’s compensation claims. Some of the most common causes of nursing related industry include:
- Over-exertion: Among other things, lifting a heavy patient to change the sheets or help the patient use the bathroom can cause muscle strain, or damage the muscles, cartilage, joints or spinal discs.
- Repetitive Stress Injuries: Nurses may do the same repetitive motions over and over, including helping patients walk or sit up, changing sheets, inserting IV’s, etc. These repetitive motions, especially when strenuous, can cause damage to the musculoskeletal system over time.
- Slip and Fall Injuries: Nurses often have to work long shifts in busy hospitals. Hospitals may be understaffed and nurses may be overworked. Floors may become wet, slippery or improperly maintained. All of these things contribute to make falls the second leading cause of injury among nurses (accounting for 13% of injuries between 1995 and 2004)
- Assaults: Nurses, especially in psychiatric wards, emergency rooms or hospitals, and nursing homes that work with dementia patients, may be exposed to dangerous patients. Assaults accounted for approximately 7% of injuries to nurses between 1995 and 2004 and can cause a number of different potential injuries depending on the nature of the assault.
Determining Liability for a Nursing Injury
Even if a patient injures a nurse, the employer can be held accountable for that injury and the nurse can recover under worker’s compensation laws. Part of the nurse’s job is working with patients, and so injury as a result of assault is a labor related injury.
In order to recover under a worker’s compensation claim, the nurse has to prove that the injury is most-likely work related. This can involve proving that she sustained an injury, and that she did so as a result of something that happened on the job. Because of the high number of industry-specific injuries, a nurse may be able to use this data to make it easier to prove that an employer is liable for his or her injury.
Getting Legal Help
When a nurse is injured on the job, he or she should consult with an experienced labor attorney to file a worker’s compensation claim. An attorney can help ensure that the claim is supported with the appropriate documentation to prove the disability and the employer’s liability. Getting help from an attorney immediately can reduce the chances of benefits being denied and of time consuming and potentially costly appeals.