Nurses, watch your back. Your employer might not.

As a nurse, you are extremely knowledgeable about your patients, but patients can be your greatest threat. One of the most dangerous things you can do is move heavy patients and equipment.

Is it ever safe to manually lift a patient?

Even if you practice the standard lift recommended by the CDC, the weight of the average adult far exceeds the recommended maximum of 35 pounds as a safe amount to lift. Lifting weight that exceeds 35 pounds puts you in danger of suffering back injuries which are particularly costly for nurses.

According to the US Department of Labor, nursing assistants are among the most reported cases in the nation of musculoskeletal disorders by profession.

Even though the CDC reports that a safe lifting program including the use of different mechanical lifts can be “highly effective in reducing a health care worker’s exposure to heavy loads,” and the American Nurses Association agrees that “the use of technology, especially lifting devices is critical to” protecting nurses, not every hospital uses the recommended equipment or has enough equipment to protect their workers.

Do mechanical lifts solve the problem?

Confused or disoriented patients often refuse to use mechanical lifts. To these patients, the lifts might seem:

  • Impersonal
  • Dehumanizing
  • Confusing
  • Are mistaken for equipment meant to harm them

Mechanized lifts may be in short supply because they are damaged from overuse or in use by another patient. In these or in life-threatening cases, you may have no choice but to manually lift a patient. This may result in any number of back injuries.

You deserve the same amount of attention and care for your injuries as you give others. If you are injured at work, you should file a workers’ compensation claim to recoup lost wages and to pay for your medical bills. An attorney will always be able to explain your legal options, especially if your claim is denied.

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