National Public Radio’s program All Things Considered ran a piece on Wednesday that centered on former Mission Hospital nurse Terry Cawthorn, part of the program’s investigative series “Injured Nurses,” which intends to expose how hospitals fail to protect nursing staff from injury.
Cawthorn’s story, “Hospital To Nurses: Your Injuries Are Not Our Problem,” is the third in a series of stories about the dangers of nursing, which runs throughout the month of February.
According to NPR and The American Nurses Association, only 10 states have “‘a comprehensive program in health care facilities‘ that are specifically designed to protect nursing staff at hospitals.” Those ten states are California, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington.
In other states, nurses are often expected or even trained to “lift and move patients using dangerous techniques that could result in injuries to the nursing staff,” reads the article. And these cases, like what Cawthorn experienced at Mission, are not uncommon.
“Nursing employees suffer more debilitating back and other body injuries than almost any other occupation, and most of those injuries are caused by lifting and moving patients,” writes Daniel Zwerdling, author of the piece. Zwerdling also states in his piece that many of these injuries go unreported and ignored, with some hospitals claiming the injuries happened somewhere other than work.
This story and the other stories in the series explore the dangers of nursing, “why most hospitals … are not taking aggressive steps to protect their nursing staff, even though the technology” to do so is available, and “how the Department of Veterans Affairs implemented a nationwide $200 million program to prevent nursing employees from getting injured when they move and lift patients.”
Mission Hospital issued a response to the story the same day the program aired and released a flyer on the hospital’s increased investment in staff safety, reporting that new practices at the facility reduced staff back injuries by 80.5 percent from 2007 to 2012. Cawthorn’s injury in the story occurred “six or seven years ago,” according to the article (2008, according to Citizen-Times, which covered the story when it was in court).
In the response, the hospital boasts a strong record of accepting valid worker’s compensation claims, stating that from 2010 to 2014, 94.5 percent of claims were accepted, and only 5.5 percent were denied — while the average for the other employers, such as the North Carolina Industrial Commission denied 18.7 percent of its worker’s compensation claims during that same period of time.
For more, stay tuned to All Things Considered.