Providing direct patient care is simultaneously the most rewarding and the most dangerous and difficult aspect of nursing for many registered nurses. Nurses often enter the profession because they want to help those dealing with an injury or an illness. Unfortunately, the steps that a registered nurse takes to provide care for a patient can leave them at risk for serious injuries. Lifting and moving patients, in particular, can lead to injuries.
Many factors likely increase the risk that nurses have for a job injury, including the amount of staff working, the circumstances that lead to them needing to move a patient, as they may not be able to wait for help in the event of an emergency like a fall, and their own pre-existing medical conditions.
The increasing average weight of patients has also led to additional strain on nurses. Currently, almost half of all workplace injuries reported by nurses relate to overexertion, likely connected to patient care.
Despite many risks in the workplace, overexertion remains the worst
According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are many risk factors that nurses face on the job. Nurses are often in circumstances that leave them at risk for violence, which accounts for 12.2% of reported injuries. They also get exposed to dangerous equipment and chemicals, as well as human bodily fluids, which could endanger them, and plenty of nurses also slip, trip and fall while working.
Still, with all of these other risks in play, overexertion that leads to strains, sprains, fractures, hernias and even repetitive stress injuries remains the most prominent risk for nurses. Approximately 45.6% of all injuries reported by medical staff relate to overexertion. Lifting and moving patients is a major contributor. Nurses should seek adequate support or use machinery when available to assist them in lifting and moving patients.
Those who get hurt in the line of duty should consider their rights to benefits including workers’ compensation to help them while they recover and get back to their job of saving people.