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Nurses' on-the-job injuries can derail careers

The nursing profession is full of dedicated, hardworking men and women who work long hours, weekends and holidays, away from their families while caring for patients.

Sometimes this hard work and devotion to duty can backfire on nurses, however. They can wind up suffering serious injuries while carrying out their duties. Below are some common injuries that can sideline a promising career in nursing.

Sprains

Improper lifting techniques are to blame for many sprained and strained back muscles, but the wrists are also at risk of repetitive-stress injuries from hoisting heavy medical equipment and typing and writing chart notes.

Foot and ankle sprains are best prevented by investing in a pair or two of high-quality nursing shoes. Even then, nurses can still suffer injuries to their ankles and feet when running to a code or other emergency.

Cuts

Working around tools with edges sharp enough to cut through bone is part of some nurses' daily tasks. Handling virus-laden needles and bacteria-covered surgical instruments requires concentration and precision of movements. Being stuck with a contaminated sharp object is a nightmare scenario nurses dread.

Even minor cuts in a hospital setting must be handled according to strict protocols to avoid cross-contaminating specimens and acquiring infections. Make sure all cuts get washed and bandaged immediately.

Burns

Autoclaves that sterilize reusable medical equipment get extremely hot in order to kill bacteria and viruses. Nurses can suffer serious burns if their skin accidentally comes into contact with a hot machine or the metal instruments before they have had time to cool.

If you get hurt on the job or develop an illness from an at-work exposure, your ability to continue working as a nurse can be at risk. All the long hours of studying, the student loans and years of dedication to patients will all be for naught if you can no longer physically do your job.

On-the-job injuries can be particularly devastating for those nurses who are the breadwinners in their families. They may be tempted to push on through the pain and continue to work regardless.

This is a bad idea, as it can cause further damage to a nurse who is already debilitated from the original injury. It's far better for nurses to notify their supervisors and seek treatment for their injuries or illnesses.

If your employer balks at covering a workers' compensation claim, you may need to seek legal guidance to get the financial compensation and medical care to which you are entitled.

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