Nursing can be dangerous work. In 2015, about five of every 1,000 registered nurses missed work due to injury, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And back injuries in particular are the scourge of the nursing profession.
According to a different analysis, nurses rank 11th among categories of workers most likely to be hurt on the job. There are relatively few occupations that are more hazardous, and most of those involve what’s traditionally considered “hard labor.” The average person just doesn’t think of nursing as tough physical work. But often that’s exactly what it is.
“Nursing graduates face the dangers of heavy lifting, and we know that even the best body mechanics will not protect them from cumulative, debilitating musculoskeletal injuries,” said Lucy Marion, dean of the College of Nursing at Augusta University.
The College of Nursing advises all its graduates to seek out safe work environments to protect themselves.Patients are getting heavier. The increasing average weight of the population means an extra risk to nurses who have to handle patients. CDC figures show that the percentage of adult Americans considered obese rose from 30.5 to 37.7 percent between 2000 and 2014.
Nurses often act fast and risk injury to themselves because the situation demands it.
“Younger nurses sometimes say to you, ‘I’d let them fall, I’m not going to throw my back out for a patient,’ ’ Smith said. But when those young nurses actually see a patient in danger of falling, they spring into action, she noted.
Though nurses may talk about looking out for themselves first, they are “by nature caretakers, caregivers,” said Cummings. Given that sense of duty, sometimes nurses’ injuries, and the pain that comes with them, may be unavoidable.
Any accident needs to be reported to a supervisor and documented in writing as soon possible.
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