As a nurse, do you know you work in one of the most dangerous places? According to 2011 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, hospital workers experience more injuries than construction workers and manufacturing employees. While your job is to treat patients with injuries and illnesses, you are at high risk of getting hurt and sick.
In order to work safely in a hospital, you must be aware of workplace hazards and common injuries. Once you know how you are most likely to get hurt, you can avoid hazardous situations and be more mindful.
Causes of nurse injuries
Here are the main causes of health care injuries according to the BLS:
- Overexertion, repetitive stress and bodily reaction: Includes lifting, reaching, bending and handling patients.
- Slips, trips and falls: Spills, cluttered workspaces and poor lighting.
- Contact with objects: Needles, scalpels and other sharp tools.
In addition, there is a unique culture in hospitals that contributes to injuries. The "do no harm" attitude can be taken to an extreme by some nurses. When nurses are willing to put their own wellbeing at risk in order to help patients, they can get hurt.
Types of nurse injuries
The most common reasons why nurses need days away from work include the following:
- Sprains and strains
- Pain and soreness
- Punctures, cuts and lacerations
Many of these injuries are cumulative instead of acute, meaning they develop and get worse over time.
The high cost of nurse injuries
Not only do injuries impact the paychecks and medical bills of nurses, but they also have a significant effect on hospitals. Here are some notable ways that hospitals pay the price:
- The average workers' compensation claim for hospital injuries is $15,860
- 8 out of 10 nurses report frequently working while suffering from musculoskeletal pain
- 24 percent of nurses take sick leave or change shifts to recover from injuries they do not report
- Replacing a nurse can cost between $27,000 to $103,000
Now that you know more about the risks of working at a hospital, you can take steps to be safer during your shifts.