Nurses often go into medicine because they want to help other people. Their profession involves very hands-on work that requires both physical care and emotional support on the part of individual nurses. Nursing can often be a thankless job, and for many nurses, especially those who work in hospitals, it can be a very dangerous job as well.
In fact, when looking at injury rates in other fields, hospital workers are more likely to get hurt then workers in other industries, including construction. What are the risk factors for nurses who work in hospitals?
Overexertion is a common issue
Nurses often have to provide physical support and assistance for patients. Lack of staff or heavier patients can result in nurses getting hurt while trying to lift or move patients without enough help. Back injuries and other injuries to joints and connective tissue, as well as broken bones, are possible as a result of patient handling and may require months of convalescence before a nurse can return to work.
Nurses get exposed to infectious materials and dangerous objects
Nurses working in hospitals may encounter contaminated bodily fluids, ranging from blood and saliva to urine and bile. In certain circumstances, that exposure could increase the risk of a nurse who works in a hospital for contracting diseases, some of which could even be fatal or incurable.
Additionally, nurses have to work in close proximity to dangerous equipment. A defibrillator, for example, could stop the heart of a healthy person if that person touches the device at the wrong moment. Equipment injuries could leave a nurse unable to work for long amounts of time.
Patient violence is also a risk factor
Hospitals often have to take in people who have had violent episodes, who are under the influence of drugs or who have severe mental health issues. Nurses may have to physically restrain patients who become combative or pose a risk to themselves.
There are other risks too. Nurses can slip, trip or fall on the job, possibly causing broken bones or worse. Nurses who get hurt on the job may wind up becoming patients themselves and may need to seek workers’ compensation benefits in order to cover their expenses while they can’t work.