Healthcare workers have one of the highest rates of injury than those in any other profession. One of the fastest-growing sectors of the U.S. economy, the healthcare industry employs over 18 million workers. Tens of thousands of nursing employees suffer back and neck injury and other musculoskeletal injuries each year. Additional injury risks include needle-sticks, latex allergies, chemical and biological exposures and stress-related ailments. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has addressed the concern about the high rates of nurses injured on-the-job, and National Public Radio recently aired a series on the plight of injured nurses.
Georgia is not immune to concerns over healthcare worker safety. Home to some of the most prominent medical centers in the nation, Georgia facilities include Emory University Hospital, Piedmont Hospital, Northside Hospital, The Centers for Disease Control, The Shepherd Center, and more. More than 320,000 healthcare workers are employed in Georgia.
Healthcare workers may put themselves at risk more than other professionals due to the nature of their work. They may feel an ethical duty to prioritize their patient’s needs over their own health.
Lifting patients is a key contributor to injuries. Hospital orderlies and nursing assistants have the highest rate of injuries and illness resulting in lost work days, followed by personal care aides and registered nurses. The increased number of bariatric patients has also added to the physical demands of nursing staff.
Back injury is one of the more common and debilitating injuries we see among Georgia healthcare workers including nurses injured on-the-job. It is important for workers to realize that back injury may not always come upon suddenly. It is possible for the daily wear and tear on the body to take time to manifest as recognizable pain. And by that time, the worker may be facing a severe injury.
There is a push toward easing the burden of patient lifting in healthcare facilities. While safe lifting techniques can help, staff is only truly safe from injury risk if they use machines and other equipment- such as a ceiling hoist- to lift workers. As National Public Radio has been reporting, we have a long way to go in protecting healthcare workers in Georgia.
When a worker realizes she has been hurt, she should not delay in reporting the injury and documenting the events that may have led up to the injury. If there is question, the treating doctor may help to determine whether the employee’s job duties contributed to or caused the injury.
Ramos & Law has been advocating for Georgia Workers since 2005, with experience in managing cases for healthcare workers. Time is of the essence in reporting work-related injury. Particularly with progressive back injury, workers need to document incidences, report the injury and seek medical attention right away. We also advise legal counsel at the onset to ensure claims are filed appropriately. If you are a healthcare worker or nurse injured on-the-job, call us for a free consultation.