It’s not very surprising that almost all nurses are working to the bone. For an individual who is seeing from the outside, it might look like the job of nursing is all about giving shots and/or administering medication to patients. But, those who are already in the field would agree that nursing is a backbreaking career. The reality is that all nurses have quite a lot of tasks involving repetitive motions, long hours on feet, and many different kinds of heavy lifting. Due to the nature of the job, nurses are prone to injuries. In this article, we will take a look at the most common types of injuries among nurses along with the ways to avoid them.
A Quick Look at the Statistics
As mentioned above, almost all nurses are prone to injuries at various points of time during their nursing jobs. For better understanding, let’s take a quick look at the statistics.Shockingly, nurses are forty-eight percent more susceptible to wrist, back, or ankle sprains and strains while being on the job when compared to all other occupations. Similarly, nurses are sixty percent more susceptible to chronic soreness, as well as pain. More particularly, these injuries are highly possible in the feet or lower back. It’s to be noted that nursing and related fields are reported to have the third largest injury rates only next to truck drivers and movers. Finally, nurses are also in the high-risk zone when it comes to exposure to deadly diseases and hazardous chemicals.Overall, we can understand that nurses are facing several dangers at work. Now, our task is to learn about the most common injuries and ways to avoid them.
Back Injuries and the Ways to Avoid Them
Various research studies regarding back-related employee compensation claims have disclosed that nurses have the largest number of claims than any other occupation.On the bitter side, it has been said that nearly half of all nurses have thought about leaving their nursing job because of the physical demands prevailing in the job. So, what makes nurses highly prone to back injuries? Improper lifting and/or transfer strategies are identified as the major causes of back injuries in the nursing field. In some cases, boosting the patients from a lying position to the sitting position and the rapid movements required to keep them from falling have also caused injuries. While it’s impossible to avoid all these movements, there are ways to reduce the threat of back injuries. Check them below.
Proper Body Mechanics:
As stated by a famous orthopedic specialist, nurses must bend at their knees by making good use of their legs for lifting. You have to avoid deploying your backs for this purpose. Similarly, for transferring a patient, you must always use transfer boards, as well as assistance from your co-workers. Another good way to avoid back injuries is that you must always place the objects or patients very close to your midsections while lifting. This would provide the essential center of gravity to you thereby, preventing any injury to your back. Finally, always try to maintain your back in a neutral position in order to protect the natural curve. The key to retaining a neutral spine while bending/lifting is to bend from the hips and not from your back.
Maintain Good Shape:
It has been reported that nurses who are able to keep up muscle power, flexibility, as well as ideal weight are less susceptible to injuries when compared to nurses who don’t maintain these. Therefore, you are advised to consult with your physical therapist for the purpose of learning ideal body mechanics, as well as the proper lifting strategies to help prevent the injuries. You can also learn trunk stability exercises for the same purpose.
Use a Good Pair of Shoes:
It’s quite obvious that long hours of standing and/or walking on hard flooring would put stress on your back. In order to avoid any problem with your back, you are advised to use a good pair of shoes while at work. In this, get the ones with good shock absorbers.
Get Proper Training:
You can always seek the help of employers who are ready to provide you with the required technology and training to learn about decreasing the risk of injuries. There are several hospitals out there with various features like motorized lifts, transfer technology, and others to lessen the physical demands of nurses. If you are in a situation to choose between the hospital that doesn’t have the technology and one that does have, then you are advised to go with the second one. This would assure you of the longevity in your profession.
If you have already got some pain in your back, then you can always consider switching to other specialties and/or settings to get some relief.
Wrist and Ankle Sprains and the Ways to Avoid Them
Next,wrist and ankle sprains are more common among nurses. It’s a well-known fact that nurses are on their feet for a longer duration, and are always bound to lift heavy equipment as well as people. These actions are making them more susceptible to wrist and ankle sprains when they are at work. As with your back injuries, here we would also encourage you to invest in buying more comfortable shoes that can provide you with an optimal support to your arch and ankle to avoid wrist and ankle sprains. Remember, they should be non-slippery in nature. While at work, you are advised to stretch your back from time to time and offer your body much-needed breaks and massage.
Here again, it’s important for you to be in a good shape physically by ensuring that your leg muscles are strong enough. It has been observed that the major cause of nurse injuries is the overexertion. Therefore, you should take your time off and relax. If you don’t do this, it would mean that you are putting yourself, as well as your patients, at risk. Also, remember that the major cause of overexertion is sleep deficiency. Therefore, always try to get plenty of resting time and sound sleep. Finally, you must seek medical or paramedical attention at the very first sign of pain or discomfort. This would help prevent further injuries. It’s important to remember the fact that several workplace injuries can be prevented if we attend to them in the initial stages.
Burns, Cuts and Infections and the Ways to Avoid Them
It might sound simple to many of you. But, at any job, including the job of a nurse, it is very possible to spill hot coffee and hot food on oneself. As this is often avoidable, we would advise you to slow down when you are attempting to manage several situations at the same time. Remember, you are holding hot things and need to be cautious about them. This also applies to your sterilizers and autoclaves, nurses, as these would also have hot surfaces. Here again, slow down!
So, you have been burned in your workplace and want to know how to go about the situation. Depending on the degree of the injury, you can provide self-care. Self-care in burns would include rinsing the burnt part of the skin with cold water, applying ice or antibacterial cream, and applying a bandage. If the burn is quite severe, be sure to seek medical attention. In this, try to stick to your hospital’s policies on work-related injuries.
Cuts are also one of the most common types of injuries in nursing. An ordinary paper cut could turn out to be a bad infection for you, because you are getting exposed to many more deadly microbes than workers in other fields. To prevent these, it’s important to handle the needles, as well as other sharp objects with care, especially when you are attending to patients with communicable diseases. If you experience any cut by chance or by mistake while at work, then you must be sure to cover all the cuts and abrasions after a thorough cleaning. This step is important to prevent any infection.
Improper handling of needles would lead to injuries and every year, around 385,000 needle-stick-related injuries are reported in the country. Thus, on an average, over one thousand cases are being reported. This increased number of needle injury cases is making it important for nurses to create awareness around such incidents and the ways to prevent them. If you are a beginner, remember that you must not recap needles and make sure to use the needless connection systems. You are advised to make sure that the safety mechanism on your needle-sticks is automated and would not interfere with regular operating processes. You must also remember to dispose of the used needles as soon as possible.
Finally, although nursing is a profession, which is meant to serve others, keeping yourself healthy and safe is most important. So, always keep in your mind your safety and float on your profession with more confidence.
- According to a number of studies, nurses have the largest number of back injury claims than any other occupation.
- To avoid many different injuries, wear a good and comfortable pair of shoes.
- Self-care in burns would include rinsing the burnt part of the skin with cold water, applying ice or antibacterial cream, and applying a bandage.