The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration estimates that as many as 20% of nurses who leave positions involving direct patient care do so because of the associated health risks like musculoskeletal disorders. From long hours walking, bending and standing to providing patient care and transitioning patients into chairs, beds or gurneys, healthcare workers often must engage in physically demanding activities.  They frequently work at a fast pace or in awkward places or postures that may put their own health at risk and cause sudden or uneven strain on their spine, joints and surrounding tissues.

Each year thousands of healthcare workers experience pain in their neck, back, joints and soft tissues as a result of their jobs.  According to OSHA, strains and sprains, typically affecting the neck, shoulders, and low back are the most commonly reported injuries. In addition to muscles, joint and tendon damage, musculoskeletal disorders may involve injury to spinal discs and nerves and possibly chronic pain and mobility issues.

Healthcare positions that require frequent physical handling of patients or fast paced care of patients pose the highest risk of musculoskeletal disorders. In addition to emergency care and surgical departments, employees who work in long-term care facilities, assist in physical therapy, sonography and radiology procedures or work as home healthcare aides may be especially likely to develop issues.

From emergency rooms and surgical departments to long-term care facilities, physical therapy offices, and radiology departments there are many situations in the healthcare field that could lead to increased risk for injury.  However, you don’t have to work in a medical facility to be at increased risk.  Home health providers who offer everything from companionship to skilled medical care are also at risk for injuries to their muscles, joints and spine.

Protecting your rights to workers compensation benefits and taking care of your body could be the difference between continuing your career and having to leave the industry you have dedicated so much time to.  If you sustained an injury, while providing patient care, that has required you to seek medical care or miss time from work you may be entitled to benefits under the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Act.  A consultation with a good workers compensation attorney could help you determine whether or not you have a valid claim.