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The Injuries that Require the Most Healthcare Workers’ Compensation Claims

Written by: Michael Fragala, PhD, MBA, RN, WCC, CSPHP, AMS

Healthcare workers go to work each day, understanding that they may be subject to injury and illness. The tragedies of the COVID-19 pandemic reminded all industry professionals that the job came with a serious risk of injury and exposure. Each sector seeks to alleviate those risks while they tend to the needs of others, but not everything can be addressed immediately.

Long-term care workers often find themselves unable to perform their daily tasks due to severe workplace injuries. These injuries have a negative impact on their day-to-day routine, change their quality of life, and even cause them to retire or seek a different career path.

Facilities often pay out healthcare workers’ compensation claims after a catastrophic incident, but for those who wish to continue in the field, remaining safe is a top priority. There is no better way to start than with an emphasis on safe patient handling and mobility (SPHM).

Why Healthcare Worker Injuries Are So Common

Healthcare workers’ compensation claims have only risen over time, and for a good reason. The daily grind offers emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion for many healthcare workers. Overnight and back-to-back shifts can take their toll on even the most well-rested individual.

While the average worker spends between 8-10 hours a day working, the average healthcare worker will go for as long as 16 hours, depending on need. In times of crisis, they may stay even longer.

Most healthcare workers must engage in mentally and physically challenging labor. Specialized equipment or specific treatment routines require a focus and mental acuity that a worker might not be able to muster after a long week on their feet. If those assets have not been adequately maintained, are out of date, or are broken, their use increases the risk of injury.

Shiftwork itself can also result in mistakes and injuries. Scientific evidence continues to confirm that getting enough sleep is essential for our well-being. Working long hours with little rest in between can have a detrimental effect on the performance of long-term care teams. Long shifts have been shown to increase the risk of obesity, various chronic diseases, and injuries due to exhaustion-related accidents or errors.

32% of healthcare workers report they do not get enough sleep. Unless staff are given proper rest periods throughout their shifts and between shifts, this problem will continue to persist.

Common Injuries Experienced by Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers that have to lift, carry, pull, and stretch often will hurt themselves in the workplace. Some of the most commonly reported injuries include:

  • Strained muscles or joints
  • Sprains
  • Falls from lifting or carrying
  • Needle sticks
  • Violence from aggressive patients or their families/loved ones
  • Slips on wet, slippery surfaces
  • Injuries from malfunctioning machinery
  • Slipped discs
  • Infections
  • Broken bones

Healthcare administrators and facilities should look to create a safe environment for their workers, nurses, and doctors, not only for the sake of their patients and to keep healthcare workers’ compensation claims low, but in general to retain more workers overall. Employees who feel their safety is provided for are more likely to stay in the same place and continue to bring excellent care.

Common Healthcare Workers’ Compensation Claims

Healthcare workers have experienced more injuries due to the pandemic, especially as staff numbers dwindle and finding new employees to take their place has proven difficult. The more work, the more likely a nurse or medical assistant is to injure themselves, setting their team and potentially their patients back in terms of progress.

Care providers should consider training new and old employees on up-to-date, safe practices when it comes to preventing injuries. They should also raise maintenance on healthcare equipment and better track assets so that injuries caused by negligence are less likely to happen.

Accidents happen, but healthcare providers and workers should not feel they will inevitably happen to them.

Lower the Risk of Healthcare Workers’ Compensation Claims with Safe Patient Handling

Injuries are a significant source of stress and costs for long-term care providers. Still, the power to protect workers lies in implementing safe patient handling and mobility programs.

Through an improved understanding of common injuries among providers and how safety strategies can minimize them, long-term care facilities everywhere have the opportunity to create safer work environments that come with less worry for all stakeholders.

Safe Patient Handling Infographic CTA

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