As more people in Maryland are starting to live longer, the demand for nurses and other health care professionals is high. However, while many consider nursing to be a noble profession, it has also gained attention recently as one that comes with a high risk of injury, especially connected to lifting patients.
NPR points out that when compared to stock clerks, truckers and warehouse workers, the number of injuries is higher for those who are nursing assistants. In fact, it is estimated that every year, nursing employees suffer over 35,000 injuries while on the job and many of these are lifting injuries. One of the problems appears to be the hospitals themselves. While there is mechanical lifting equipment available that can relieve nursing staff of this duty, many hospitals do not have such equipment or if they do, the machines are in bad condition or there are simply not enough of them.
Adding to the challenges that nursing staff face is the heavy weight of the average patient. When patients are in an intensive care unit, they are usually not in a condition to use any exertion. This places the full weight of the burden to move the patient on the staff’s muscles and it is estimated that the average weight of a patient is often 250-300 pounds.
However, the injury is only the beginning of the challenges that nursing staff face. A separate report from NPR states that hospitals often turn their backs on their employees, going so far as to terminate their employment and even deny their workers’ compensation claim. This happened to one nurse who was released from employment after she suffered a lifting injury. She had worked for the hospital for over 20 years and the hospital’s attorney claimed that her injury was not from lifting patients, despite the confirmation of the hospital’s staff.