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New Beds for Obese Patients Help Nurses Avoid Workplace Injury

Nurses Face More Workplace Injury Due to Larger Patients, New Medical Equipment Can Helpshutterstock_568299721

A Kansas City-based company has designed a new hospital bed specifically for obese patients, which the company says could help patients avoid injury, and help nurses avoid workplace injury and workers comp claims.

Sizewise Worldwide is taking on the growing number of obese hospital patients – about 1/3 of American adults are obese – and has now designed a hospital bed that can help nurses avoid workplace injury. Because of the physical demands of their jobs, nurses have one of the highest rates of workplace injury of any job in the US, but filing for workers compensation can be difficult.

According to data from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there are over 35,000 back and other joint injuries among nurses serious enough that the medical professionals miss work to get treatment. Nursing assistants and orderlies regularly suffer three times the rate of musculoskeletal injuries as construction workers – in large part because many construction workers are trained to be careful of these injuries, and given that nursing requires lifting, adjusting, and physically aiding increasingly large patients.

Per the BLS, nursing assistants are physically injured more than any other occupation, including warehouse workers, truck drivers, registered nurses, and stock clerks.

“The bottom line is, there’s no safe way to lift a patient manually,” says William Marras, director of The Ohio State University’s Spine Research Institute, which has conducted landmark studies on the issue. “The magnitude of these forces that are on your spine are so large that the best body mechanics in the world are not going to keep you from getting a back problem.”

Sizewise’s new bed helps with some of the manual adjustments nurses and nursing assistants perform – two buttons on the bed lift the patient up. Patients regularly slide down in hospital beds, and nurses regularly use the bedsheets to help adjust them to a more comfortable level. These adjustments, however, can cause workplace injuries for nurses and nursing assistants, which can lead to complicated workers compensation claims.

“The sheet glides up into a drive unit and it wraps in a circle into the drive unit and you have eight to 10 re-positionings,” said company representative Mary Nell Westbrook. She added that, although the beds are expensive, the new technology can significantly reduce the workers comp claims hospitals face.

“Too many hospital administrators see nursing staff as second-class citizens,” says Suzanne Gordon, author of Nursing Against the Odds. “Historically, hospital administrators have viewed nurses as a disposable labor force.” This means that, for nurses and nursing assistants, getting workers comp claims approved for workplace injuries can be very difficult.

According to James Collins, who conducted research into nurses’ workplace injury rates in the 1990’s for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “The big deal is, the injuries are so severe that for many people, they’re career-ending.”

Given that a number of nurses and nursing assistants are young, workplace injuries can lead to not only workers comp filings, but to early forced retirement and social security disability claims. It would be best to avoid workplace injuries all together.

The Strom Law Firm Helps Victims of Workplace Injury with Workers Comp Claims

If you face a serious, long-term injury after a workplace accident, then you are eligible to file a workers compensation claim. The South Carolina workers comp attorneys at the Strom Law Firm understand the intricacies of filing these types of claims for workplace injuries in South Carolina, so contact us today for help with the paperwork and the appeals process. We offer a free case evaluation to discuss your needs. 803.252.4800



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