Nurses are at an increased risk of developing back problems or sustaining back injuries at work. Service industries put workers at a greater risk of injury and in 2010 the labor department reported that 76% of reported injuries occurred with workers in the service industry. Nurses who work in state owned care facilities reported the highest incidence of injury. At 14.7 injuries per 100 full time equivalents, this is even more than the 2009 report which showed construction as 12.5 per 100 full time equivalents. The incidence of construction injuries decreased in 2010.
Healthcare workers face challenges and risks that employees in other industries do not. Needle injuries, back injuries, violence, latex allergies, and high levels of stress are among the risks that healthcare workers face on a daily basis.
Back injuries are very common in the healthcare field and can oftentimes be disabling. Lifting and transferring patients is the primary cause of serious back injuries, and these are often preventable. Staffing shortages contribute to the risk. When there are fewer people to assist, nurses are expected to do more.
Workers’ compensation attorneys can assist greatly in helping injured employees to secure the benefits that they deserve. Hospitals may deny benefits to nurses on various grounds. In one 2011 case in Asheville, NC., where a nurse who had seriously injured her back during a patient transfer and was unable to return to work, the hospital blamed her injury on her lifting a casserole at home.
Another nurse was injured while working at Mission Hospital in February of 2008. The injury was compounded by several more lifting incidents at work and soon she was in severe pain. She was awarded workers’ compensation but the hospital disputed the decision, stating that there was not enough evidence to show that her injury was not caused solely by another lifting incident. It was eventually determined in 2011 that the hospital was unreasonable in its investigation or total lack thereof of her case and was ordered to pay her legal fees as well.
Back injuries are often disputed by employers or insurance companies because it is not always possible to determine the origin of the injury and demonstrate that the injury is the direct result of a workplace incident. Back injuries can be costly, and insurance companies do not want to assume responsibility for the cost of treatment that can last for the course of many years, in addition to wage loss benefits.
Workers Compensation Lawyer
If you sustain a back injury at work you should immediately report the injury to your employer and follow the steps they set forth to seek medical treatment. If you were injured at work, it is important to speak to a workers compensation lawyer about your legal rights and options.
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