Nursing: Even Proper Transfer Technique Can Lead to Injury

Feb 23, 2015 | WC & Other Laws

Sunny Vespico, a 36-year-old nurse, was working at a Philadelphia hospital on March 31,2012 when she was required to lift a patient. This is not unusual for nurses like Vespico, who are taught proper technique for lifting and transferring patients as part of their training in medical and nursing schools. In spite of using proper technique, Vespico heard a pop in her back. An MRI confirmed she had a slipped disc as a result of the transfer. As Denver disability lawyers would advise her, she sought medical attention and received it. However, a study on proper technique for transfers recently showed conclusively that even proper technique exposes nurses to undue strain on their backs.

Proper transfer technique, which is endorsed by most hospitals and medical programs that train nurses, involves keeping one’s back straight and using mostly leg strength to lift and transfer patients. Vespico has had three back surgeries as a result of her injury and, as our Greeley work comp attorneys would advise, may only now begin to think about going back to work. It is of course impossible to carry on as she had been before the injury and it will be quite difficult to pick up where she left off.

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William Marras, the director of the Spine Research Institute at the Ohio State University affirms the reason nursing staffs are as a rule getting hurt lifting patients because of the proper body mechanics drilled into them during school.  This is almost shocking, particularly since so many nursing professionals swear risk of injury is at a minimum if proper body mechanics are utilized when lifting and transferring patients. However, it seems there is no safe way to physically lift and transfer another person. Every lift puts a serious strain on a nurse’s body and involves a high risk of injury. Hospitals should supply lifting machines to help in the lift and transfer process, very much the same way manufacturers utilize machinery to lift heavy parts without risk of injury to the workers. It is unfortunate the machinery is so costly hospitals all over the country are dragging to update and protect their nurses. With these sorts of policies, injuries like Vespico’s will only continue.

Workers’ Compensation can be difficult, confusing, and very complex. Kaplan Morrell has helped thousands of injured workers since 1997 get the benefits they deserve. Contact us here or call us at 303-780-7329 for your free consultation.