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NPR: Hospitals not taking responsibility for nurse injuries

iStock | Rutchapong
iStock | Rutchapong

Last week, we reported on the first installment of NPR’s “Injured Nurses” series exploring how in some cases, hospitals put nurses at risk of becoming patients.

The next two installments of the series are definitely worth a look as well. The second article explores how even “proper” technique for lifting and moving patients—what is taught in hospitals and nursing schools—can lead to spine injuries. And sometimes those injuries end nursing careers.

The article tells the story of Sunny Vespico, who injured her back moving a patient along with a nursing assistant:

“Immediately I felt a pop in my back and pain down my leg,” Vespico says. “As a nurse, and understanding the mechanics of the body, I knew that there was something very wrong.”

An MRI confirmed it: She had herniated one of her discs. And so began a saga of excruciating pain and months off from work.

The article goes on to point out that groups including the American Nurses Association and National Nurses United have concluded that nurses cannot safely move patients without proper equipment, but that many hospitals do not follow these findings.

This leads to the third installment of the series, which points out that many hospitals refuse to admit that nurse injuries were caused on the job. The article follows the story of Terry Cawthorn, who was injured moving a patient at Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C. Mission fired Cawthorn and refused to pay her medical bills. The hospital’s lawyer claimed in court that her injury was caused, in part, by lifting a casserole from her oven.

Have you been following the series? Let us know what you think and if you’ve seen (or been a part of) similar stories.

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2 Responses to NPR: Hospitals not taking responsibility for nurse injuries

  1. Carol Walters

    This is true. An injury on the job as a new nurse ended my career very early. I continued to try to work in the field but couldn’t do it. Even knowing that the injury happened on the job, the hospital wouldn’t take responsibility for it and that has been since way back when in 1978. Since that time I have driven a school bus because I don’t have to lift the students on and off the bus and finally I found a job in a data entry company that prints medical records for LTC. I have been doing that for over 18 years and now, that job will be gone soon because of Obama care. Long term care (LTC), now has to put their medical records LIVE for the EMR system and that puts those medical records exposed to violation of the HIPPA laws because of hackers. This will close this company without clients to print records for and my boss had started it by himself and has run it for over 30 years. This will put an end to me working all together because I can’t lift people anymore ever since that injury on the job way back when.

  2. cliff reed

    I have experienced the same attitude. The “It didn’t happen here “mind set even though They had records that my back injuries did. Took about 10 years in court for workmans comp and I won.

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