Nurses dedicate their careers to helping and caring for others when they are ill or injured. However, hospitals expose nurses and all types of healthcare workers to considerable risks in terms of occupational illnesses and injuries.
In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, RNs within the private sector experienced about 19,790 days away from work due to injury and illness. This occurred at a rate of 104.2 cases per 10,000 full-time workers, which is substantially more than the 91.7 cases per 10,000 workers for all occupations.
Contracting illness is far from the only risk you face
Here are several common reasons nurses need medical treatment and time off work:
- Overexertion and repetition: Back injuries are common among nurses due to the constant need to bend down, lift and move patients. Filling out reports and charts at a computer is also part of the job, and you can suffer the same repetitive strain injuries that many office workers experience.
- Stress: Aside from the toll being a nurse can take on your body, it can also tax your mental wellbeing. Some of this is due to seeing people die or suffer. Some might be because of the long hours and irregular shift patterns your employer asks of you. The staffing shortages that so many hospitals face only add to this strain as you take on more work to cover absent colleagues.
- Physical violence: Assault or violence stemming from a wide variety of circumstances is also a threat to nurses. Unhappy patients, as well as stressed or grieving family members and other loved ones, can become aggressive and act with anger toward staff.
- Sharps: Scalpels, scissors and syringes are all necessary but dangerous tools in hospitals. The risk of cuts and stab wounds is a real worry, but the consequences could be even worse if the instrument is infected because it has been in contact with a sick patient.
If you are injured at work, you need to prioritize your health. Reacting swiftly and understanding your options for pursuing a workers’ compensation claim will be crucial to providing you with the financial security you need while you recover.