Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: Newly Licensed Nurses at Risk of Occupational InjuryNovember 23, 2015
Nursing is one of the fastest growing occupations in America. Many people are drawn to a nursing career because of the endless personal and professional rewards it provides. Recent nursing school graduates also enjoy some of the highest starting salaries among their peers in other industries. But as a newly published study points out, they are also at a higher risk of suffering a work-related injury, particularly if they work in a hospital setting.
Researchers analyzed data collected from a survey of 1,744 hospital nurses who had passed their state licensure exam six to 18 months earlier. Study findings showed that this group was the most likely to work schedules associated with higher rates of occupational injury, including overtime and night shifts. According to the survey, 79% of new nurses regularly worked 12-hour shifts; 44% worked nights; and 61% worked overtime (either mandatory or voluntary).
The two most common injuries suffered by nurses working overtime and night shifts were needle sticks and sprain or strain injuries. Risk for a needle stick increased 32% for nurses who worked weekly overtime, especially for nurses who worked 12-hour shifts and a weekly overtime of eight hours or more. Risk for a sprain or strain injury was 16% higher for nurses working the night shift.
The study authors say fatigue is the primary factor for the increased injury risk. Working nights interrupts the body’s circadian rhythm. This, combined with the physical demands of turning, lifting, and transferring patients without the help of a full staff, puts these nurses at higher risk of being hurt on the job.
The study pointed to other possible contributing factors beyond fatigue. Needle stick injuries were also more common in nurses who were younger than 30 years, had a higher-than-average workload or had lower-than-average autonomy, meaning the ability to work independently from others. Conversely, the risk for sprains and strains was lower for nurses who graduated with a BSN or higher, who demonstrated a higher-than-average job commitment and who worked in hospitals with a higher-than-average nurse-to-patient ratio.
Authors of the study suggest more research should be conducted to test the effectiveness of continued safety training and use of safety equipment such as patient lift devices. They also advise hospital administrators to utilize the study results to develop strategies to protect newer nurses. This may include avoiding excessive overtime or exclusive night shifts while nurses transition into their new role.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Protect the Rights of Injured Nurses
If you have been injured on the job or are suffering from a work-related illness, you don’t have to fight alone. For more than three decades, our Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton have been working to protect injured healthcare workers. We fight for your right to full compensation. Contact us online or call 844-556-4LAW (4529) today to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Workers’ Compensation attorneys. Someone is ready to take your call and address your concerns 24 hours a day.