NPR: Hospitals not taking responsibility for nurse injuries


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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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