Injuries among nurses are common. Back injuries from lifting patients, needle sticks, violence from confused patients, slips and falls – these all plague nurses.

The problem in rural areas comes from the lack of nurses. Because there are fewer nurses in rural Minnesota, their health and ability to stay on the job becomes an important factor in the community.

Most Minnesota counties outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area are considered rural. In fact, statistics on the number of rural Minnesota health care providers are skewed by Olmstead County, home of the Mayo Clinic and the site of a very large number of health care providers.

This lack of health care providers outside two areas leaves most of the state underprepared for a nursing shortage.

On-the-job work hazards

Nurses face many work-related injury hazards. These include:

  • Back and neck injuries from lifting patients
  • Repetitive stress injuries from routine tasks
  • Infection or disease from accidental needle sticks
  • Injury from violent patients who are confused
  • Illness from toxic cleaning chemicals and chemotherapy drugs
  • Slips and falls from the copious fluids that are produced by ill patients.

Workers’ compensation benefits

As employers, hospitals are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance. If a nurse is injured on the job, she (a 2006 study found that 93 percent of registered nurses in Minnesota are female) can be reimbursed for medical costs and receive a portion of her pay while she heals.

However, many nurses say they believe that because there are so few on staff, their time away will harm patients and so they work through their pain, making it inevitably worse.

There are times when caregivers need to accept care for themselves. If you or a nurse you know is injured on the job, contact a qualified, experienced attorney to help you through the workers’ compensation process.