Working as a nurse can be quite rewarding. Nurses get to engage directly with patients in a way many doctors simply cannot due to time constraints. They administer physical treatments, talk with patients about their conditions and monitor their progression as they recover (or in some cases, decline). Most patients understand the importance of the role filled by nurses, but few people really comprehend the risks nurses take every day.
Nursing is actually a relatively dangerous profession. Nurses have to handle dangerous compounds, bodily fluids and even unstable patients. They can end up exposed to all kinds of pathogens, but many times, the primary risk factor is in the strain of daily work. Nurses who develop serious, debilitating conditions as a result of their job deserve benefits, including Social Security Disability in cases where recovery is unlikely.
Bodily injuries are the biggest risk for nurses in the United States
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, working in a hospital is actually more dangerous than working in construction. Hospitals report more injuries based on per capita employment than construction companies or even the mining industry. There are all kinds of risks, including patients with dementia or other serious mental health issues that could result in an assault or an accidental needle prick that leaves a nurse exposed to an infectious disease, like HIV.
However, nearly half of all injuries to hospital workers results from “overexertion and bodily reaction.” In other words, most injuries result from lifting, bending or reaching. Many serious injuries result from patient handling, such as getting an immobile, obese patient from one location to another. Strains and sprains account for roughly half of injuries that result in medical workers missing work. Both nurses and nursing assistants could easily incur this kind of injury.
An aging workforce meets a growing patient population
Many people in the nursing profession are aging, meaning that their bodies simply can not perform the way they used to. However, these nurses are still subject to rigorous and exhausting physical demands from their job. Combine the decrease in ability due to aging bones and joints with the increasing weight of the average American, and you have a perfect recipe for disabled nurses.
An injury that could keep a nurse from returning to work for weeks or even the rest of his or her life could occur in seconds. After an injury, nurses need to explore their options for moving on with their lives, including Social Security Disability if these skilled workers cannot return to their job because of the injury. When that happens, injured nurses with a permanent disability need to consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits.