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New technology aims to reduce nursing injuries in VA hospitals

There is no question that it's difficult to take care of patients. Nurses in particular have long been known to suffer from serious injuries as a result of the activities they perform each day. Fortunately, there are changes happening that can help.

If you've ever suffered an injury on the job because you were trying to lift a patient, technology is there to help. At the Department of Veterans Affairs Hospitals, they've decided to take steps to reduce nursing injuries by reducing the rate of injuries caused by lifting patients.

In less technologically advanced facilities, a nurse has to physically lift patients who are unable to move themselves from their beds. They carry them to the bathroom, to their wheelchairs and to other locations with little assistance. That has long been taught in nursing school. However, today, things can be different.

Now, there are slings that wrap around patients. These slings have the ability to be attached to a hook that hangs from the ceiling. That hook is controlled by a machine that can lift the patient gently, allowing the sling to maneuver over the wheelchair until the patient is in place.

This way of safely moving patients can help reduce on-the-job injuries significantly. VA records from the late 1990s showed that many nursing employees got hurt lifting patients, but that can change. The VA asserted that it was spending around $22 million or more on treating back injuries, among others, for nursing workers. This technology could actually reduce that cost significantly.

For those who do suffer disabilities on the job, a Social Security Disability claim is possible in some cases. Workers' compensation may be another option for some.

Source: NPR, "At VA Hospitals, Training And Technology Reduce Nurses' Injuries," Daniel Zwerdling, accessed April 10, 2017

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