Registered nurses are considered by many to be the unsung heroes of the medical industry. While doctors receive accolade after accolade, the approximately three million RNs in the United States work in their respective trades, focusing on quality patient care.
With the job comes risks, particularly serious injuries that could sideline or end a career. Physical damage can take many forms and include:
- Overexertion/bodily injuries –Considered the most common injuries in the nursing profession at approximately 50 percent of nursing staff, particularly to RNs 45 to 54 years old. Over time, nurses who push themselves to significant physical limits, particularly when lifting patients, can suffer sprains, strains, and serious, if not career-threatening, back injuries.
- Slips, trips, and falls –Hazards unattended, such as wet surfaces and other obstacles, can result in severe injuries. Nurses 50 and older see the highest rate of these catastrophic work accidents when they come across surfaces wet from water, bodily fluids, or gel.
- Patient violence –Patients acting out by attacking nurses has become a significant problem and source of serious injuries. The simple act of providing care can be met with serious violence that can sideline or end careers. While many of those incidents went unreported, new laws to protect all healthcare employees are gaining prominence.
- Contact with objects/equipment – Hospitals are filled with large machines and hanging equipment, obstacles that are easy to run into, particularly during stressful medical events. Even more dangerous are needlesticks. While incidences are not at the top of the list, the potential exposure to serious blood-borne infections. Estimates are around 600,000 to 800,000 of these types of injuries annually.
As nurses toil in the background, more suffer injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening. It is important to report your injuries and consult with an attorney knowledgeable in this area of the law to ensure that your rights are protected.