Moving patients a common cause of injury in health care

When you make your living working in a hospital, nursing home, doctor’s office or similar health care setting, you face certain career-related dangers that can lead you to fall ill or injure yourself. While the hazards you face working in health care are considerable and might include everything from violent patients to needlestick injuries, one of the most substantial causes of injury among health care workers is moving patients.

The nature of your job suggests that you typically work with patients who may be immobile or even unconscious. At times, you will likely need to move these patients from one setting to another to receive treatment, prevent bedsores or what have you, but doing so places a serious strain on your body, regardless of the techniques you use. According to Healthcare Business & Technology, injuries developed due to lifting patients is the single-biggest threat faced by today’s nurses, with more than 35,000 lifting-related back and musculoskeletal reported annually among nurses alone.

Team lifting not always feasible

In an effort to lower the number of lifting-related injuries experienced by health care professionals, many hospitals and similar health care settings encourage their staff members to perform “team lifting.” Though the idea behind team lifting is that it distributes a patient’s weight among multiple team members, instead of just one, many hospitals and nursing homes suffer from chronic understaffing issues, making team lifting difficult, if not impossible.

Proper lifting practices do not always help

When you began working in health care, you may have learned about safe lifting practices, such as bending your knees and straightening your back when moving heavy loads. Even if you consistently use proper lifting techniques, however, you can still suffer back, repetitive strain and musculoskeletal injuries because of the great deal of strain repeatedly placed upon your body.

Injuries resulting from lifting patients are always a risk for health care workers, but there are some steps your employer can take to lessen the dangers. For example, many hospitals and similar work environments are increasingly using mechanical lift-assistance equipment to lower their workers’ injury risks.

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