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Repetitive Stress Injuries on the Rise in the Medical Profession

The medical industry is undergoing significant changes as technology advances, and one important change is that doctors and healthcare providers are increasingly relying on digital technologies. Doctors and healthcare providers are also increasingly making use of electronic medical records. While these advances may allow for healthcare providers to offer better and more efficient care to patients, they also create new risks of workplace injuries for those in the medical field: the risk of developing repetitive stress disorders.

Our Foxboro workers’ compensation attorneys want to ensure that doctors and healthcare providers are aware of the new potential risk of injury in the workplace. We also urge healthcare providers to do everything possible to avoid doing damage to their health as they work to improve the health of others. 1314902_medical_doctor.jpg

Increased Risk of Workplace Injuries in the Medical Profession
Repetitive stress injuries can develop when the body is asked to do the same movements over and over. This can wear down on the soft tissues of the body (the muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons) and eventually, significant pain can result. Carpal tunnel, for example, can occur when people repeatedly use their hands over and over to perform repetitive tasks such as typing on a keyboard or computer.

Unfortunately, with the increased use of electronic medical records and digital technologies, healthcare providers are being forced to engage in repetitive typing and other repetitive physical tasks with ever-increasing frequency. A December 2012 US News Health Report addressed this problem in an article entitled “As Doctors Go High-Tech, Staff Injuries May Rise.”

According to the US News article, doctors, nurses and other medical workers are all at risk of developing repetitive strain or stress injuries both as a result of bad office layouts and as a result of improperly using computer devices. Hospitals and care facilities are incorporating new technology and demanding heavy reliance on the new technology without considering whether the old offices and hospital spaces are set up for the advances. This results in offices and computer station that are not ergonomic in any way. Those who enter medical information or otherwise use computers and digital technology in these poorly designed spaces are, therefore, at greater risk of developing a repetitive stress injury.

Work Injuries are Widespread
The US News Health Report also provided information on a recent study conducted by a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca. The professor studied 179 doctors and discovered that:

  • More than 40 percent of male doctors and more than 50 percent of female doctors experienced pain in the neck, shoulder, upper and lower back at least once each week as a result of repetitive strain on the body.
  • Around 30 percent of male doctors and 40 percent of female doctors reported experiencing wrist pain at least once per week.

With so many healthcare providers experiencing problems, it is essential that hospitals and care facilities take steps to improve ergonomics and to reduce the chance that their employees will develop permanent long-term injuries due to repetitive strain.

Care providers should also watch their posture and wrist position and should take regular breaks to stretch and exercise in order to minimize the risk of repetitive stress injuries. Ultimately, however, it will fall to the employers of healthcare professionals to design appropriate office spaces and work environments that accommodate changing technology.

If you or a loved one has been injured or killed on the job, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your workers’ compensation case — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Mold Cleanup Efforts in Massachusetts: Risking Workers’ Health, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Blog, December 7, 2012