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When hospitals fail to keep staff safe

As a Slidell nurse, you understand all too well the dangers that are inherent in your job. But, you consistently put your needs and safety second while you attend to patients that need your help. In March of 2010, a nurse at Crozer-Chester Medical Center answered another nurse's call for help, just as you have done many times.

While day shifts seem barely sufficiently staffed, night shifts often seem understaffed. This means that there are often not enough hands on deck when it comes to lifting a patient that has fallen. When this nurse answered the call for help, she gathered up as many other staff as possible and proceeded to lift the patient as they had all been taught in nursing school.

The next day, the nurse cold not walk. She had severely injured her back while moving the patient the night before. In order to talk and sit again without debilitating pain, she underwent back surgery. The surgeon used a metal cage and four screws to repair the damage to her disk.

The Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) conducted a series of surveys on injuries suffered by nurses while on the job. The surveys indicated that more than 35,000 back and other injuries occur annually among nursing staff. Furthermore, these injuries are so severe that nurses have to miss work in order to recover. Lifting and moving patients is the number one contributor to these injuries. This is a clear indicator that hospitals are failing to protect their staff.

Research has shown that moving a patient manually is never truly safe, even if you use the "proper body mechanics" you learned in nursing school. Some hospitals have begun to realize this and have made efforts to purchase special machinery to lift patients.

However, most hospitals are still falling very short when it comes to providing proper equipment to keep their staff healthy and safe. Until hospitals make these changes a priority, nursing staff will continue to be at risk for career-ending workplace injuries.

If you are a nurse in the Slidell area and you have been injured on the job, you may be entitled to file a workers' compensation claim. Keep in mind that there are often time limits for employees to notify supervisors of an injury and begin the claims process. Be sure you take the time to become familiar with Louisiana's workers' compensation laws so that you can recover the cost of your medical treatment and lost wages.

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