Nursing — A Dangerous Job Before A Pandemic Made It Worse
Several years ago I wrote about one of the most dangerous jobs when it comes to work-related injuries — Nursing. You can read my prior article at, Health Care Workers Have High Rates Of Injury. At one time, a National Public Radio (NPR) study even called nursing “one of the most dangerous jobs in America.”
What about jobs like construction or law enforcement? Those professions have pretty high risks of injury. According to research, back and other injuries occur at much higher rates in nursing than in the construction industry.
Think about it. Nurses are on their feet for pretty long shifts. And, they regularly lift or move heavy patients. How many professions require a worker to routinely lift or move objects weighing over 100 pounds? Not many. Keep in mind — Some patients don’t cooperate which makes the lifting much more difficult. Ask a hospital nurse about moving an uncooperative patient!
Many hospitals and clinics are also chronically understaffed. In my prior article, I discussed several issues which increase the risk of injury to skilled nurses: Staff Shortages, Increasing Patient Obesity, and Sicker Patients. I would add to that list that many medical facilities also fail to provide personal protective equipment for employees.
Over the years, I’ve represented many injured nursing employees. Many of these nurses suffered serious back and other orthopedic injuries in local hospitals or assisted living facilities because of the tremendous physical demands of the profession. I’ve also represented nurses injured because of exposures to other contaminants and diseases in the course of their work.
What has changed since my 2016 article? I’ve seen a couple huge injury issues impacting healthcare workers.
First, according to a 2018 government study — Healthcare workers accounted for 73 percent of all nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses due to violence. Let that sink-in for a moment. Almost 3/4 of the injuries in this country from workplace violence occur among healthcare workers. Our nurses often face the worst situations. They see patients who are sometimes impaired by drugs, anger, or mental illness. Many patients refuse to cooperate with care. Some patients lash out at the nurses attending to them. In some hospital settings, you can add angry or upset family members to the mix.
Second, add the current pandemic to the mix. For the last year, healthcare workers have faced a crisis. They’ve worked through a pandemic requiring even longer hours and greater risks to their own health. They’ve worked under very difficult conditions of isolation, quarantine, extra equipment, and periods where hospitals were overwhelmed with patients.
Locally, I’ve represented several Huntsville Hospital workers who struggled to keep pace with pandemic demands while facing their own ongoing pain and medical treatment needs. I’ve spoken with numerous nurses injured by the fast pace of current events.
A recent article in The Washington Post noted the burnout among healthcare workers from the pandemic. According to the article, 6 in 10 healthcare workers report harm to their mental health from the pandemic. About 3 in 10 healthcare professionals are even considering leaving the profession. Many healthcare workers feel “expendable” like they were sent to the front lines of the pandemic without the help, equipment or support.
Hopefully, we are nearing the end of this pandemic. However, we need to remember that nursing was already one of the most dangerous and injury-prone jobs in America before a pandemic made it worse.
From its office in Huntsville, the Blackwell Law Firm represents people with serious personal injuries across Alabama. Many of our cases involve workers dealing with chronic pain and disability following a serious work-related accident. If you have questions, let us know. We are happy to discuss any personal injury issues. Consultations are always free and confidential.