An occupational hazard?
Many years ago I worked as a school nurse at a local grammar school. While performing a vision screening one afternoon, I leaned forward to point to a particular letter on the chart. At that moment I felt a “pop” in my back. The next morning I woke to searing pain in my left leg and numbness in my left foot, but still didn’t associate it with the vision screening until a neurologist pointed out that the pop I felt was probably the very point at which I herniated a disc damaged years earlier in an accident.
Because I hadn’t made the association, I hadn’t reported it to my supervisor, and the incident was thus not covered as a worker’s compensation accident, something that could have made a significant financial difference. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing aids, orderlies and attendants account for more musculoskeletal disorders than truck drivers and laborers, with registered nurses not far behind. The U.S. Department of Labor (www.bls.gov) has reported that the number of nonfatal injuries and illnesses actually declined during the period 1995–2004, and there may be two reasons for that.
The first is that nursing management began to support actions that eliminate the need for patient handling by using assistive equipment. This includes items like full body slings, stand-assist lifts, and latent transfer and friction reducing devices.
The second is that nurses began to make contractual demands for provisions that would include trained lift teams at their facilities. For more information about this, see the 11/6/2007 press release at www.calnurse.org. Even politicians have introduced legislation to force facilities to use language that spells out exactly what type of lifting should be prohibited and how healthcare workers can be protected from injury.
With luck and good body dynamics, you’ll save yourself months of recovery from painful back strain during your nursing career. You can put that time to work thinking about how you want to be pampered on Nurse Appreciation Day next May.
Check what Kim has to say about some of the suggestions at www.emergiblog.com/2008/02/i-have-enough-water-bottles-thank-you.html. Share it with your administration and maybe you can spare yourself another mug.
Christine Contillo, RN, BSN, has worked as a nurse since 1979 and has written extensively for various nursing publications, as well as the New York Times.
This article is from workingnurse.com.