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Nursing assistants and orderlies are injured more than any other occupation

Nurses have an extremely tough job, in many ways. But it’s shocking to know how many injuries they endure that can end up leaving them without a job in some cases, primarily due to lifting patients. The whole “lift with your knees not with your back” idea isn’t really sound when it comes to transporting […]

Nurses have an extremely tough job, in many ways. But it’s shocking to know how many injuries they endure that can end up leaving them without a job in some cases, primarily due to lifting patients.

The whole “lift with your knees not with your back” idea isn’t really sound when it comes to transporting increasingly obese patients.

“The bottom line is, there’s no safe way to lift a patient manually,” William Marras, director of The Ohio State University’s Spine Research Institute, which has conducted landmark studies on the issue, told NPR. “The magnitude of these forces that are on your spine are so large that the best body mechanics in the world are not going to keep you from getting a back problem.”

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According to the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, orderlies suffer more injuries than fire fighters – and nursing assistants even more than police and correctional officers.

NPR put together this graphic from the BLS data:

NPR published a compelling investigative piece that not only looks at the disturbing number of nurses who are injured, but also how well they are taken care of, how much hospitals are actually doing to protect their staff, and why certain laws haven’t been passed to ensure their safety.

A case study within the story focuses primarily on nurses employed by Kaiser Permanente, which owns 38 hospitals in three states. They chose Kaiser because they were able to get some internal documents demonstrating nurse injury records and even acknowledge that nurses often have to shout to get help.

They talked to 16 nurses at Kaiser in Walnut Creek, Calif. who had been injured in the past several years. Some injuries were so extreme they required surgery, disability leave and even early retirement.

It wasn’t until Jan. 1, 2012 when the state of California put into effect the Hospital Patient and Health Care Worker Injury Protection Act that the nurses could actually file a complaint with the state, alleging that Kaiser was violating the law.

After an investigation by California’s Division of Occupational Safety, on Jan. 31, 2014 state Administrative Law Judge Mary Dryovage issued an order that declared that Kaiser had failed to have “specific procedures in place to ensure that sufficient staff was available to perform patient handling tasks safely.”

Kaiser was given 90 days to make changes. And despite the fact that they claimed conditions were fine and that they cared about their staff, they apparently have made some changes and provide more lifting machinery.

Regardless, nurses continue to get injured and more provisions could be put in place to prevent injuries that are technically unnecessary if equipment and sufficient staff are available.

Read the entire story here with all of the personal details from nurses surrounding their unfortunate injuries.