Home health care workers, nurses, certified nurse’s aides and other medical professionals who engage in direct patient care often risk substantial bodily injury by doing so. Many factors influence how likely an individual health care worker is to get hurt on the job.
Depending on the age, medical condition and needs of a patient, medical professionals may have to lift, move or reposition them as part of their care. Doing so puts these medical care providers at increased risk for overexertion and bodily reactions such as sprains, strains and even hernias.
Pressure from private insurance companies to reduce prices by reducing staff and changes in best practices may have increased the risk that care providers have when lifting or moving a patient, but it is also true that the increased average weight of Americans is putting more strain than ever before on the people providing their medical care.
The average American is now more than 5 pounds heavier than in 1999
According to research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, adults in the United States have gotten heavier since before the turn of the millennium. In 1999, an adult male in the United States on average would weigh 180 9.4 lb. In 2016, that average weight for a man increased to 197.9 pounds.
Women have also seen an increase in their average weight. In 1999, adult women had an average weight of 163.8 lb. That average increased to 170.6 lb by 2016.
Although at first glance, a change of less than 10 pounds per patient may not seem like much, needing to repetitively move and shift people who weigh more than the patients someone cared for earlier in their career could cause substantially more strain on the body and increase someone’s risk of an injury.
Those hurt as part of patient handling have rights
Those who work as employees for medical companies or facilities typically have the right to seek workers’ compensation if they suffer an injury on the job. That includes injuries related to moving or lifting patients.
Medical care providers cannot recover from overexertion of their muscles, joints or connective tissue without a combination of rest and care. Attempting to continue working instead of reporting the injury as soon as it happens could mean worsening injuries and a longer leave of absence from work while you recover.