You became a nurse because you want to help people. You are naturally nurturing and intuitive. The job is demanding, sometimes sad and mostly rewarding. There are times when you get to think things through and take your time. There are also moments when you must act quickly, making important split-second decisions.
You were trained for this kind of thinking. Throughout the course of your schooling and employment, you were taught steps, procedures and protocol. This includes lifting and moving patients. Unfortunately, when transferring a patient, it is possible for you to become injured. This is especially true when working with larger patients, or when having to use repetitive motion.
Back injuries are common among nurses.
According to a 2015 story by NPR, it was reported that over 35,000 back injuries were suffered by nurses that year. The main cause of these injuries was moving and lifting patients while at work. When lifting patients, nurses must reach from the side of the bed, bend their knees and exert energy. As a nurse, you know you’ve done this, and often do it multiple times in a single shift.
What are some techniques nurses can use?
While you must act quickly and make decisions in a matter of seconds, you should try your best to remember to use proper lifting techniques when moving patients.
- Watch your alignment. Try to keep your head, spine and neck aligned.
- Lift with your legs. Don’t bend at the waist, but instead bend at the knee to keep strain off of your back.
- Maintain your center of gravity. Try to keep your arms as close to your body as possible.
- Don’t twist. Twisting can put strain on your back and neck.
Hospitals have added extra equipment to assist nurses. When possible, utilize railings, draw sheets and lift machines. When working on a group lift, be as communicative as possible.
If you do find that you’ve injured your back on the job, don’t wait to get help. If the injury is bad enough that you can’t walk, stand or do your job as a nurse, you may need to pursue compensation. While you love your job and find it rewarding, remember the advice you give your patients and always watch your back by putting your health first.