Working in the healthcare industry can be surprisingly hazardous. In fact, a recent report referred to nursing as one of the most dangerous jobs in America. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the risk for serious injuries or illnesses that result in lost time from work is higher in the healthcare industry than it is in manufacturing and even construction. As tens of thousands of healthcare workers suffer severe and sometimes disabling injuries every year, hospitals seem to do very little to prevent them, often even denying injury claims altogether.
The Dangers Workers Face in the Healthcare Industry
Nurses and other healthcare workers often face unexpected challenges and dangerous situations on a daily basis. They are subjected to intense working conditions that can cause massive amounts of physical and mental stress that can lead to serious injuries and even death. A few factors that make this industry so dangerous include:
- Staffing Shortages: Understaffing places patients at risk, but it is also dangerous for healthcare workers. When there aren’t enough workers to go around, more of the workload falls on those who are there. Staff members are often forced to sacrifice their own well-being to provide adequate care for their patients. Exhaustion can lead to poor coordination, and over time, can cause serious health conditions.
- Physical Demands: Although there are a variety of machines and techniques that can make lifting, turning and transporting patients much safer, many hospitals and other healthcare settings do not take aggressive steps to support their staff members. As a result, healthcare workers suffer significant injuries to their backs, arms and necks more than construction workers do.
- Workplace Hazards: Hazards in the workplace are nothing new to America’s healthcare workers. Although there are numerous protections that can be implemented to help reduce the risk for workers, nurses and support staff are continuously exposed to things like contagious illnesses and infections, dangerous medical devices, surgical smoke, and other workplace hazards that make their jobs risky.
Violent and Abusive Patients: Mental instability, confusion, medication reactions and other factors can sometimes cause patients to become combative or hostile toward hospital staff. U.S. News and World Report states that nursing injuries caused by patients are on the rise. Nearly 17,000 incidents involving healthcare workers and workplace violence were reported in 2014 alone.
Unfortunately, the mental and physical injuries that healthcare workers face can be so severe that they can cause lasting, and sometimes permanent consequences.