Injured Nurses Story on NPR

imagesEveryone should check out the new series on NPR by Daniel Zwerdling on Injured nurses.  It’s running all month.  I have the honor of helping Danny on this series.  He spent months and months delving into this very serious problem and has produced a great series.  His first section focuses on Kaiser and its failure to act to protect nurses.  Lift equipment should be a non-negotiable in every hospital.  Patients are getting heavier and heavier and nurses are now being asked to lift patients who weight hundreds of pounds.  Remember it’s not safe to lift even fifty pounds without help.  I was once in a hospital that put out a call asking nurses to lift an 800 pound man.  We never see people that obese walking down the street, but they are patients in our nation’s hospitals.

As Zwerdling points out:

“According to surveys by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are more than 35,000 back and other injuries among nursing employees every year, severe enough that they have to miss work. Nursing assistants and orderlies each suffer roughly three times the rate of back and other musculoskeletal injuries as construction laborers.In terms of sheer number of these injuries, BLS data show that nursing assistants are injured more than any other occupation, followed by warehouse workers, truckers, stock clerks and registered nurses.The number one reason why nursing employees get these injuries is by doing their everyday jobs of moving and lifting patients.”

Some data show that up to 11 or 12% of nurses leave their hospital jobs every year because of nursing injuries.

This is a problem that could be easily solved with readily available lift equipment that pays for itself over a course of two years by reducing workman’s compensation complaints.  In Australia lift equipment and lift teams are mandated.  One of the highlights of Zwerdling’s piece is that the Veterans Health Administration, which has been so maligned, has spent millions installing lift equipment in its hospitals and teaching nurses and nursing assistants how to use it to lift safely.  The VA has reduced injuries to nursing staff by 80%.

I will keep commenting on this series.   As I have been saying for years, it doesn’t make sense to turn nurses into patients as they care for pati

Showing 3 comments
  • Deeanna Burleson

    Excellent series. I will definitely follow this. Does he also cover the mental and emotional trauma that the healthcare organizations create for nursing staff?
    There could be, probably us, a correlation with physical trauma.

  • Diana Danielson

    Once injured, hospitals do not comply with the ADA. I asked to use a knee scooter after developing a painful foot condition. Because Physicians were using knee scooters in my work area and using them in surgical suites, I thought my request was pretty straightforward. Was I wrong. After 35 years working in this institution in Arlington , Virginia, I was forced into unemployment for 10 months. I have been demoted, reassigned, and retaliated against. I now work one day a week after forcing my employer to allow me the use of a knee scooter by hiring an employment lawyer and filing a discrimination EEOC charge. All this just to be afforded the same rights as a physician.
    You are injured, you are OUT OF LUCK!!
    This hospital is 9 miles outside our nation’s capital and has been awarded a “Magnet” designation. You would think being close to “where the rules are made” would make a hospital more progressive.
    How many disabled nurses are employed at your hospital??

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