Hospitals may be in for a spike in workers compensation claims, and they have it coming, too, according to Feb. 3 NPR article. While weight gain and obesity can be a touchy subject, it is one that hospitals and healthcare clinics must address. Patients are getting bigger and bigger, and, consequently, it takes more strength to lift and transport them. Instead of scheduling more nurses per shift or investing in equipment to help safely transport obese patients, many hospitals are actually making cuts. That means there are even fewer nurses on staff, when most facilities need more than ever before.

And the results have been devastating. “Nursing assistants and orderlies each suffer roughly three times the rate of back and other musculoskeletal injuries as construction laborers,” NPR continues. While some hospitals, such as the Baptist Health System in Florida, have successfully reduced nurse injuries by 80% with the implementation of new, motorized lifting equipment, others flat-out refuse to take these costly measures. Although the exact reasons vary, Author Suzanne Gordon tells NPR that high-ranking hospital officials largely view nurses as disposable and easily replaceable.

Nurse Ashley Moore moves patients 15 to 20 times every work day, and some can weigh up to 250 to 300 pounds. Another nurse, Tove Schuster, nearly paralyzed herself helping a coworker lift a patient. Ultimately, Schuster’s injury — a broken spinal disk — required a metal cage and four screws to fix. Although she regained most of her mobility (she can walk), Schuster was not able to return to the nursing profession.

While these occurrences are common, that doesn’t make them okay. Workers compensation lawyers, workers compensation attorneys, and job lawsuits can, if nothing else, help critically injured nurses pay for their medical expenses and lost wages. If nurses are eligible for disability, they will receive 50 to 70% of their paycheck, on average. Job lawsuits aren’t ideal, but they’re a necessary measure to help raise awareness about this problem and help nurses receive due compensation and financial comforts in the interim.