Healthcare workers in hospitals and nursing homes face a fair amount of risks on the job. These include things like slip-and-fall accidents, combative patients and more. There are safety steps they can take to prevent injury. One thing they cannot avoid, though, is the sheer weight of their patients.
After all, nurses often have to lift patients to roll them in bed, to help them out of bed, to help them in the shower, to get them back into bed and for a variety of other reasons. This is necessary care. They can’t ignore it. At the same time, it can lead to some serious injuries — the most significant being to the back and the spine.
A light patient
We will address the rising weight of patients in a moment, but first it is important to point out that lifting any person puts a nurse at risk. This does not just include obese or overweight patients. Any person at all — other than a young child — can weigh too much to be safe.
For instance, one expert with the American Nurses Association pointed out that a “little old lady” who weighs 90 pounds is typically one that nurses consider very light. And, for a human being, 90 pounds is fairly small. However, she then pointed out the real issue here, saying in an interview with ABC: “In what other profession is 90 pounds considered light?”
It’s an important point. We think of 90 pounds as small for a person, but many other jobs simply ask that you can lift 40 or 50 pounds. A lot of workers never even have to do that. For a nurse or a nursing home worker, lifting someone who is “only” 90 pounds may feel light and easy, but it’s twice what a lot of other workers do.
Another issue is that Americans, on the whole, continue to gain weight. Back in 1999-2000, a study found that the average man weighed 189.4 pounds. Fast forward to 2015-2016, and the new average was 197.6 pounds. For women, the jump was from an average of 163.8 pounds to 170.6 pounds.
And that is just the average. Many Americans weigh far over these average weights, and they keep increasing. People also tend to gain weight as they age, meaning that those in nursing homes and hospitals may tend to weigh more than those on the outside. Either way, the average is far more than the 90 pounds noted above.
Are you a nurse who suffered an injury on the job? It could be serious. It could impact your career. Make sure you know all of the legal rights that you have.