Manual patient-handling tasks are among the most challenging physical duties of nurses and CNAs. Lifting patients poses an occupational safety threat even when using assistive patient-handling equipment.
Immobile patients may need to be regularly lifted and turned to prevent bedsores. Patients may also need to be lifted to change their bedding. Even a partially mobile patient may require help with transfers, going from bed to wheelchair, or sitting to standing.
People are hard to move, even those who appear frail and delicate. Injuries can occur even when nurses use safe patient-handling practices. Nursing lifting injuries are one of the most common workplace injuries for South Carolina healthcare workers. The complications from lifting injuries at work can cause lifelong complications and even render a nurse unable to continue in their line of work.
If you were hurt during patient-handling tasks, you could be eligible to collect benefits under the South Carolina workers’ compensation system and potentially other sources. Securing maximum compensation is not always as easy as it should be. An experienced workplace injury lawyer from Jebaily Law Firm can streamline the process for you while you focus on your health.
Contact us now for a free consultation with our South Carolina work-related injury attorneys.
Why Nurses with Lifting Injuries Need Our Workplace Accident Lawyers
Almost all registered nurses (RNs), certified nursing assistants (CNAs), and other healthcare workers are eligible to receive benefits and medical care under the SC workers’ compensation program if they’re injured on the job. Usually, the process is straightforward. You alert your supervisor that you’re injured, file your claim, see an employer-approved doctor, and follow their guidelines for recovery. You’ll also receive a partial wage benefit if you miss work for a certain amount of time.
However, some nurses run into difficulties. Their employer may deny or try to minimize their claim, or they may become victims of retaliation for filing a claim in the first place. Our workers’ compensation lawyers can help file the claim or investigate and challenge a denied or undervalued claim.
Other times, the injury could be caused by defective assistive patient handling equipment, like a malfunctioning Hoyer Lift. In that case, the injured nurse could pursue a lawsuit for compensation against the manufacturer, a legal process made much easier with the help of a skilled workplace injury lawyer.
Our legal team is familiar with all kinds of cases stemming from nurse lifting injuries and can help you explore your options for seeking maximum compensation.
Common Causes of Nurse Lifting Injuries in SC
Nurses’ injuries from lifting patients can happen at any point in a shift. Some of the most common reasons nursing workers can get hurt during a patient lift or transfer include:
- Heavy patient loads – Bariatric patients are much heavier than other patients and often lack sufficient muscle strength to help with their own movement. Even when using lifting devices, the excessive physical effort needed to lift obese patients can cause overexertion and musculoskeletal injuries.
- Inadequate lifting equipment – Many hospitals and care facilities are equipped with patient lift and transfer equipment, although it’s not uncommon for equipment to be outdated or in short supply. If a nurse doesn’t have the right tools to facilitate the transfer, they could sustain a serious occupational injury.
- Poor body mechanics – Failure to use proper manual lifting techniques can cause serious back injuries and other musculoskeletal disorders. Using the back to lift instead of the legs or not getting close enough to the patient could cause injury to the nurse.
- Lack of training – Lifting a person is a lot different from lifting a box. Nursing staff should receive proper training on safety procedures to protect nurses when lifting and transferring patients from a variety of positions, including fully prone or seated.
- Lack of staffing – The healthcare industry frequently experiences chronic short-staffing issues. Most lifts require at least two nurses. When nurses have overfull patient rosters, or in an emergency, there may not be enough people to properly help with a lift.
Types of Nurse Lifting Injuries
Lifting injuries from moving patients can result in lifelong health complications and chronic pain for hospital nurses and other healthcare professionals. Some of the most common occupational injuries nursing personnel could experience from lifting in health care settings include:
- Musculoskeletal injuries
- Back injuries
- Repetitive stress injuries
- Sprains, strains, and ligament or muscle tearing
- Herniated discs
- Spinal cord injuries
- Contracting a disease or illness from exposure to sick patients
- Broken bones from a fall
This list isn’t exhaustive. Many nursing professionals could suffer multiple injuries from one lifting accident.
Potential Compensation for Nursing Injuries at Work
South Carolina workers’ compensation benefits are available to almost all workers who are employees in the healthcare field. These benefits include reasonable and necessary medical care related to the injury, prescriptions, durable medical devices to help you heal or get around, and a partial wage replacement if you miss work. Independent contractors are not eligible for workers’ compensation benefits as they are not employees. However, some nurses are misclassified as independent contractors when they are in fact employees. The law looks at the actual relationship, not the label.
Many nurses who are employees run into problems with getting benefits. An employer or its insurance company may deny a claim by focusing on a nurse’s pre-existing conditions and arguing that the current injury was not the result of this accident but due to the prior condition. An insurer might deny the claim and argue that the injury happened elsewhere when the nurse wasn’t working.
In these cases, the nurse has the right to appeal a denied claim. Our attorneys can help nurses fight a denied or undervalued claim by pursuing appeals before the Appellate Panel of the Commission or the Full Commission.
How Our Attorneys Help Nurses with Workplace Lifting Injuries
Our nursing workplace injury lawyers can help in other ways besides appealing a denied claim. We can also evaluate your case to determine your eligibility for third-party compensation. For example, if the lift equipment you used was faulty, you could have a claim against the product manufacturer for a defective device and file a lawsuit for compensation against them.
If your employer retaliates against you for filing a claim by reducing your hours, assigning you to the worst shifts or floors, or even terminating your employment, our lawyers can help. We want to protect you from unfair and illegal treatment in these situations.
Talk to Our South Carolina Healthcare Work Injury Attorneys Now
If you’ve been injured while lifting a patient at work, getting the compensation you deserve may not be as simple as it should be. There could be complications with your workers’ compensation claim, or you may need help pursuing an appeal. You could also be eligible for third-party compensation.