Working in a hospital means you are susceptible to various illnesses and diseases. However, you may also be at risk for injury from lifting or repositioning patients when needed.
These repetitive tasks can take their toll and eventually cause what’s known as repetitive strain injury (RSI).
What is an RSI?
An RSI is caused by any repeated overexertion of the body. This can include lifting heavy objects, carrying out tasks that require awkward positions or frequent twisting. It can even result from seemingly small tasks, such as typing or staring at a computer for long periods of time or holding your phone.
How common are they in hospitals?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that hospitals are more dangerous than construction jobs for work-related injuries. Almost 50 percent of work-related injuries in hospitals are due to lifting or repositioning patients, which include a lot of bending and back strain.
In terms of days spent away from work because of an injury, more than half of injuries to hospital workers are because of a sprain or strain. These injuries were typically severe, causing the injured person to take at least one month off of work.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms of RSI can vary depending on the area injured. Typically symptoms include tingling, swelling or pain in a specific muscle group, soreness or weakness. If you are repeated lifting and bending over, you’ll likely have back soreness or pain in other limbs.
Can they be prevented?
Yes. A hospital can ensure the safety of both its patients and its caregivers by utilizing mechanical lifts. These devices ensure that employees minimize manually lifting patients.
These lifts and other safety devices are implemented in a hospital’s “safe patient handling program” if it has one. These programs train employees and help reduce the number of injuries and the severity of injuries.
How is an RSI treated?
If you’ve been injured at work, it’s important for you to seek medical attention. Diagnosing your injury will make it easier to find an effective treatment.
Treatments may include using hot or cold packs, physical therapy, medication or surgery. Stretching regularly, both at work and at home, may also help ease injury pain.
Staying safe on the job
Despite taking precautions and getting regular exercise, injuries do still happen. When they do, your employer may be liable and you may be entitled to workers compensation. If you have any questions, reach out to an attorney to understand your rights.