New nurses suffer more work injuries

North Carolina readers may be interested in a study that shows that newly-licensed nurses are more likely to suffer on-the-job injuries than are those who have more experience. The research was conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded RN Work Project.

According to the study, which was published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, newly-licensed nurses experience many physical and psychological stressors that increase their chances of being injured on the job. Many of the stressors are associated with the fact that new nurses tend to work 12-hour shifts plus overtime. For example, nurses who work the night shift and more than eight hours of overtime each week suffer more needle-stick injuries and strains than nurses who do not. Also, nurses who have a high work load, work the night shift and are in poor health suffer more sprains and strains. Further, nurses younger than 30 with a high work load suffer more needle-stick injuries. The authors of the study believe that reducing these stressors will increase nurse safety and improve patient care.

Previous research has shown that nurses have a higher risk of on-the-job injury than correctional officers, construction workers and police officers. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is already working with hospitals to develop ways to reduce workplace injuries among health care employees. A particular area of focus is reducing injuries from lifting patients.

Most North Carolina nurses are covered under their employer's workers' compensation insurance. One who is injured on the job may choose to file a claim for medical expenses, a portion of any salary that was lost during recovery and other compensation. Some injured workers find it helpful to work with an attorney as they prepare their claim to ensure all required documentation is included.

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