Why is providing healthcare so dangerous?

Study after study shows that nurses and other medical professionals who provide direct care to patients are more likely to suffer injury on the job than workers in any other industry. You may be surprised to learn that the rate of nurses who suffer injuries on the job exceeds the rate of injuries construction workers experience. It would seem that medical facility administrators would be well-versed in workplace safety for health professionals.

More than one-quarter million healthcare workers suffer injuries each year

The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration say that in 2011 alone, more than 250,000 workers contracted occupational illnesses or suffered workplace injuries in hospitals. Nearly 7 percent of full-time healthcare workers experience injuries or illnesses in the workplace. The rate of illness and injury is slightly higher among residential care and nursing home employees than workers in hospitals.

The rate of nursing injuries is roughly double the private industry average

The overall rate of injury and illness in the health profession compare to a roughly 3.4 percent rate of occupational illness and worker injury experienced throughout other areas private industry. Emergency room personnel experience the additional exposure to a higher rate of injury due to violence, most frequently involving patients acting out while seeking care.

Nurses frequently suffer back injuries while moving patients. Last year, OSHA increased its scrutiny and desire to promote workplace safety to bring the healthcare profession more in line with other occupations. OSHA appears most concerned about:

  • Disorders related to lifting patients or nursing-care residents
  • Exposures to illnesses and blood borne pathogens
  • Injuries due to workplace violence
  • Slips, trips and falls and healthcare facilities

While prevention is an important concern, an injury or occupational illness can impact entire families when a nurse or other healthcare worker suffers injuries on the job. It is vital for healthcare workers to report any significant injury as soon as possible to his or her supervisor. Workers' compensation is an important system to help injured workers offset lost wages and cover medical expenses related to workplace injuries and occupational illnesses.

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