Top 9 Common Injuries to Health Care Workers

Updated on June 22, 2020
Injured employee visiting lawyer for advice on insurance

It is ironic that health care workers are often the most at risk for physical injuries at the workplace. After all, they’re supposed to be the ones treating injured patients, right? And yet they get injured, sometimes with slight injuries only, but at times with serious damage done to their bodies.

If you or someone you know is a health care worker, you may want to bear in mind these common injuries that they may have to deal with. Perhaps you may find a need to seek out Workers’ Compensation Settlements due to workplace injuries.

Exposure to Infectious Diseases

  1. Contracting an Infectious Disease from Patients – One of the worst things that can happen to a health care worker on the job is to get exposed physically to an infectious disease. This is because infectious diseases can be transmitted by an infected patient to the attending health care worker quite easily. Pathogens of infectious diseases that can harm a health care worker can be parasites, fungi, bacteria and, of course, viruses.

It doesn’t take much for a health care worker to get infected. Even a random sneeze or cough from a sick patient can instantly infect the health care worker. And sometimes, even with proper physical protection, the health care worker contracts the illness anyway. A sharp object tainted with infectious pathogens, such as a needle used on an infected patient, can convey the illness to the health care worker due to accidental contact with the worker’s skin. There are also infected patients who may resort to violent outbursts due to their mental state at the time. They can easily harm the nearest health care worker with an infected sharp object.

Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals

Lay people may not realize it, but the health care workers on duty may also have to handle hazardous chemicals as part of their job. 

Hazardous chemicals may be used to sterilize medical equipment (preparatory to the equipment being used on the patients) or the work surfaces. The chemicals could also serve as a tissue specimen fixative. Then there are the strong chemicals that are applied on the patient during the medical treatment itself. 

Since the health care worker is often exposed throughout the duty shift, it is not surprising that they may develop a reaction to these hazardous chemicals such as:

  1. Skin Allergy – One common reaction to hazardous chemicals are skin allergies. 
  2. Throat and Lung Problems – They may also inhale the vapors from the hazardous chemicals, causing a breathing problem.

Exposure to Physical Hazards

  1. Back Injuries – One common physical hazard that a health care worker may be exposed to is strained back muscles. They incur this injury because they may have to help lift obese patients from a stretcher or a wheelchair on to a gurney or to the examination table. This is quite common in the US since there are so many obese patients nowadays in the country. Then there are the senior citizen patients who may or may not be obese but still need assistance to get to their beds. If you consider that, up to 80% of the health care workers on duty nowadays in the US are women, you can see why it’s so easy to incur a strained back injury.
  2. Bruises – This is a common physical injury incurred while on duty. There are many ways by which a health care worker can get bruises. One way is by trying to restrain a patient who is having a violent outburst. Another is by trying to catch a patient who accidentally trips and falls.
  3. Soreness – This can be caused by overexertion of a certain muscle group, such as when an obese patient must be assisted to stand up from a wheelchair.
  4. Fractures – A health care worker can suffer fractures as a result of an accident at the workplace. One example is when the health care worker tries to catch a falling patient whose full weight is absorbed by the arm of the health care worker.
  5. Multiple Trauma – This may occur as a result of trying to restrain an insane violent patient who must be examined by the health care staff. If the violent patient is able to get their hands on a sharp or blunt object, this can lead to traumatic response on the health care worker by the patient due to cuts and fractures.
  6. Repetitive Strain Injury – In repetitive stress injury, the health care worker incurs muscle strain due to repetitive actions done as part of health care duties. This can be incurred while encoding patient information continuously on a computer. If there is a lot of information to encode, the health care worker may get carpal tunnel syndrome, for example.

Final Takeaway

Working in health care shouldn’t have to be a minefield of health risks if the workplace administrator implements a workforce safety program. If you or someone you know has been injured while working as a health care worker, it may be wise to seek out legal advice regarding compensation for such injuries. That way, you or they will be able to get medical treatment for those injuries and be able to resume work soon afterwards.

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