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Risk of Workplace Injuries For Nurses

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Risk of Workplace Injuries For Nurses

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorney. Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. These are highly trained professionals providing care to patients suffering from a wide range of medical conditions.

Nurses know how to work in extremely challenging conditions and to deal with the stress that comes with their job. However, many times between procedures, monitoring vital signs, dispensing medications and responding to emergencies, they get injured. This is part of the profession, unfortunately.

They should not have to deal with violent and rude patients though – that is unacceptable. But every situation is different and so is every medical institution. Now if a patient attacks the staff like what happened in the show ER with a knife and so on – that is an entirely different situation.

Common issues for nurses

  • Work stress: Nurses have to work long hours and deal with many emergency situations on a daily basis. An increase in the number of patients as well as limited access to the latest equipment and technology has only added to their job challenges.
  • Deadly exposures: From pathogens, hazardous waste, and drugs, to radioactive rays, a nurse risks exposure to many biological and other materials and infections.
  • Violent patients: Sometimes patients get violent during the term of their hospital care and a nurse gets injured in the process. In some cases, patients act irrationally and the nurse has to bear the brunt of their erratic or risky behavior.
  • Ergonomic hazards: Repetitive work and lifting of machines, patients, and objects also add to the health risks of a nurse. The Occupational and Health Administration (OSHA) has labeled a hospital among the more hazardous places to work in. In fact, OSHA officials have claimed working in the nurse profession to be more dangerous than two other known hazardous occupations: manufacturing and construction.
  • MSD injuries: A substantial part of the injuries suffered by a nurse at work can be categorized as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). The physically demanding nature of a nurse’s duty can affect ligaments, tendons, body joints, neck, and shoulders. In some cases, the nurse’s job can affect their body structure as a whole, especially the structure that supports their limbs and back.

Typical Causes of Nurse Injuries

  • Sharp instruments: Nurses often work with sharp instruments, such as needles and blades. Even a microscopic prick, cut, or nick can expose them to harmful pathogens.
  • Overexertion: A nurse’s musculoskeletal structure is at risk because their job typically requires them to work for long hours and perform repetitive tasks. They also perform difficult tasks such as patient lifting, which can cause enormous strain on their back (some patients are obese which makes their job even worse). According to the American Nurses Association, one in three back injuries among nurses are caused while lifting and moving patients.
  • Violence: Healthcare professionals such as nurses often work with distressed, confused, and scared patients who can get physically aggressive at times – as already insinuated. In some cases, even the friends and family of the patient may misunderstand a situation and commit an offence against the caregiver. A hospital can also be a potential target of criminals because it carries valuable machines and drugs.
  • Understaffing: An understaffed medical facility leads to increased workload for nurses. Apart from the physical strain, excess work can sometimes cause them to make a mistake or an error of judgment. Understaffing also leads to challenges in performing certain tasks that ideally require assistance from additional staff.
  • Slips and falls: One of the important requirements in a hospital is maintaining a clean, infection-free environment. Frequent floor cleanings in a hospital setting can pose risk to a nurse who may be in a rush due to an emergency. It is not uncommon for nurses to become victims of slipping and falling. It is even worse when they slip and fall carrying something heavy or something dangerous such as a needle.

The Hospital Patient and Healthcare Worker Injury Protection Act

This Act was made a part of the Labor Code in California with an aim to address the issue of common injuries suffered by nurses and other healthcare workers in the state. The Act also lays down a mandate for the employers. It requires employers to implement measures that will minimize the risk of workplace injuries that may occur while providing care to a patient. The Act also requires an employer to follow a policy of safe patient handling at any given time for every unit of patient care.

However, the Act does not deal with other workplace injury risks for nurses, which may include patient violence, hazardous work environment, and other stressful situations. If you ever get injured on the job as a nurse, you should consult a legal professional with dedicated expertise in Workers’ Compensation Laws.

Some things just should not happen and should not be tolerated.

Related Articles by  Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorney, Ed Smith

Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorney

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Workers’ Compensation Attorney. Have you or someone you love been injured in a work related accident and need the help of a skilled attorney to fight for your rights? I can help. Please contact me right away at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free and friendly advice. I can also be reached online at

Since 1982 I have served the Sacramento community, helping people hurt in accidents and their families recover. Please take a moment to read some of my valued past client’s reviews on: GoogleAvvo, and Yelp.

I am a member of the Million Dollar Forum. This association is reserved for trial lawyers who have won cases with million dollar proceeds for their clients..

You can review summaries of some of my past Verdicts and Settlements by visiting my website,

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Army Nurse Treating Patient by Sgt Barry Pope RLC. OGL
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