How do I deal with an on-the-job injury?

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Nursing carries plenty of physical risks, from back injuries to needle sticks. We take precautions, but sometimes the caregiver is the one who needs medical attention.

If you suffer an on-the-job injury, obtain treatment as soon as possible. That doesn’t mean stopping by employee health on your way out the door after your shift. It means stopping what you’re doing, notifying your supervisor and seeking medical care immediately.

The same rule applies even if the injury doesn’t fully manifest itself until hours later. Say, for instance, you’re helping with a patient transfer when you feel a “tweak” in your neck or back. No harm seems done, though, so you continue on with your shift—only to find yourself flat on your back, unable to move, once you get home.

Again, don’t wait until morning. Seek medical care immediately, and be sure to mention the “tweaking” incident.

You’ll also need to fill out some paperwork, indicating what happened, when, how and who was around. This information serves a dual purpose: First, it provides a written record of your injury, and second, by documenting the circumstances surrounding the injury, you may help prevent other, similar injuries in the future.

If your injury will in any way interfere with your work responsibilities—a weight restriction, for instance—be sure to provide your employer with appropriate documentation. Also, make sure you’re following your healthcare provider’s instructions.

Finally, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation. Check with your state’s Workers’ Comp Board for more details.

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