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Nursing Home Work Safety Hazards Endanger Patients Too

Workers at state-run nursing homes face a higher risk of on-the-job injuries than construction workers or those in manufacturing.stethascope

That’s based on the latest figures from the annual report issued by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on workplace illnesses and injuries. There were approximately 2.9 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses across the private sector last year and another 753,000 in the public sector, according to the Labor Department. On the whole, that works out to three injuries per 100 full-time workers in the private industry and 5.1 injuries per 100 full-time workers in state and local government. Meanwhile, when it comes to nursing home employees, those who work at state-run nursing homes and residential care facilities are injured at a rate of 12 per 100 full-time workers. This represents more than 13,700 cases of recorded injury or illness suffered by nursing home employees last year. That’s even more than local police, who suffered an injury rate of 11.3 per 100 workers. The Bureau of Labor pointed out also that these figures are actually low because these incidents are often unreported.

Work-related injuries among nursing home workers can have a direct impact on the quality of care that patients receive. First of all, a facility that is well-run prioritizes the safety of all who are present – including the employees, who are critical to the process. A facility that does not have or does not enforce worker safety guidelines is not likely to do so when it comes to patient safety either.

Beyond that, one of the most common injuries these workers face is back injuries. Most of these types of injuries stem from lifting or transporting patients. A worker who strains his or her back lifting a patient is not doing so correctly – either because they don’t have the right tools or training or because there aren’t enough people on staff to do it right. That affects not just the nursing home worker, but the nursing home patient.

A study published in The American Journal of Nursing and Clinical Nurse Specialist revealed that musculoskeletal injuries and depression have the potential to negatively impact the productivity of nurses, which in turn is going to affect patient safety and care. That means higher rates of nursing home abuse and jpatient nursing home injuries.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), rates of musculoskeletal injuries as a result of overexertion for health care workers are among the highest of all industries, and the single greatest risk factor is manual lifting/ moving/ repositioning of patients. Even pre-defined maximum weight limits don’t necessarily take into account a patient who may be uncooperative or completely limp.

Several states have passed laws that outline safe patient handling, though Florida isn’t one of them. In fact, it’s one of 40 states that don’t have any laws or regulations for safe patient handling. National legislation on this front has stalled. There are many facilities that have their own guidelines, but clearly they are not always being enforced when we have such high rates of nursing home worker injury.

The National director of health and safety at National Nurses United, a union that represents registered nurses, told The Wall Street Journal that it is well known that nursing homes are “stressful environments.” She added that in order for nurses to be able to do what they – and do it well – they have to be afforded a work environment that is both safe and stable. When nurses and other health care providers aren’t offered a safe workplace, they can’t ensure the health and well-being of those for whom they are caring.

Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.

Additional Resources:

The Jobs Where Workers Are Most Frequently Hurt, Oct. 27, 2016, By Jeffrey Sparshott, The Wall Street Journal

More Blog Entries:

Nursing Home Neglect Alleged in Death of Couple, 91 and 92, Nov. 28, 2016, Nursing Home Negligence Attorney Blog

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