There is no question that working in the healthcare field is challenging. Workers are subject to long hours, high levels of stress, and physical exertion in the course of their work. Healthcare workers such as nurses, home care aides, and orderlies, are among the most commonly injured workers in any industry sector, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Because of the highly physical nature of healthcare work, many workers risk physical injury while on the job. These injuries can vary widely, but there are a number of common injuries that many healthcare workers sustain.
Common Causes of Healthcare Worker Injuries
- Overexertion or repetitive stress: Many workers in the medical field work long hours performing heavy lifting and repetitive tasks. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), healthcare workers have a high risk of musculoskeletal disorders.
- Patient handling activities: Lifting, moving, and transferring patients can place enormous strain on healthcare workers’ bodies.
- Needle sticks: Medical workers frequently handle sharp instruments, including needles, which can puncture their skin and expose them to pathogens.
- Violence: Healthcare workers often are around scared, stressed, disoriented people, and can be the victim of violence. Patients, their families, or their friends may pose a risk to workers, and those who work in hospitals may encounter violent criminals as patients. Clinics and hospitals also may be the target of robberies because of the valuable medication they stock.
- Slips and falls: Slick floors can occur for a number of reasons, and workers can easily slip and fall.
- Understaffing: When a medical facility is understaffed, the workload of each worker is increased. This can lead to rushing and mistakes, but also means that there may be reduced support to help with multi-person tasks.
Common Healthcare Worker Injuries
Due to the number of risk factors that healthcare workers face every day, there are many injuries that are commonly sustained by medical personnel. These injuries include:
- Strains and sprains: Commonly, these injuries affect workers’ lower backs and shoulders.
- Slipped discs: Heavy lifting, such as lifting patients, can cause damage to the soft tissue between vertebrae.
- Blood-borne infectious diseases: There are many blood-borne diseases that can be spread by needle stick injuries, including HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B or C.
- Infections: Airborne pathogens or exposure to bodily fluids can increase the risk of infection for workers.
- Fractures: Falls can cause broken bones, but fractures are commonly the result of workplace violence.
- Head injuries. These can also occur due to violence or falls.
There are many other injuries that can be sustained by healthcare workers, but these injuries are among the most common. Caring for injured and ill patients can expose medical workers to a wide variety of illnesses and can cause years of strain that causes injuries that take time to manifest. If you are a healthcare worker, be sure to be alert for signs of work-related injuries.
If you need help filing a workers’ compensation claim after a work-related injury, contact our Bakersfield workers’ compensation attorneys. Our team at Berry, Smith & Bartell, a Professional Law Corporation is well versed in helping injured clients to receive the benefits they deserve. Contact our offices at (800) 848-6288 to request a free case evaluation.