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Nurses are at high risk of injuries and illnesses on the job

Working in healthcare is risky, and nurses suffer from injuries at a higher rate than many other industry workers. Not only are they exposed to ill patients, but their job is physical, which can lead to both acute and chronic injuries.

Nurses are especially susceptible to musculoskeletal injuries, although they also experience other injuries and illnesses.

Nursing injury stats and facts

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of injuries that occur to registered nurses take place in a hospital setting. Female nurses sustain 91.2% of the total injuries and illnesses, and over half of the injured RNs are those who have worked for their employers for longer than five years.

Nurses that are older than 45 years of age experience a higher percentage of injuries, and they tend to be more severe. More than 25% of work injuries occurred to the back, and there is a median recovery time of seven days.

Common injuries and illnesses obtained on the job

There are numerous factors in the workplace that make registered and other nurses more susceptible to injuries and illnesses. Sources include:

  • Ill and injured patients
  • Syringes and needles
  • Hazardous chemicals
  • Slips, falls and trips
  • Violent events
  • Long shifts

Common injuries include tears, sprains and strains, and these usually occur to the upper extremities and trunk of the body, although the lower extremities are more often involved in older nurses. Because of the long hours they work, nurses are often the victims of exhaustion and fatigue, which increases the risk of injury and illness.

Although the type and severity of injury vary based on the age group as well as the work setting, the bottom line is that nurses sustain more injuries than workers in most other occupations.


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