‘I Can't Help, My Back Hurts'
This morning there was a patient on the floor so the request went out for lifting help. Four people responded, including me, a PTA, a male CNA and the patient's nurse. The patient was a big man, weak and in a narrow space so it wasn't going to be easy. As we were positioning ourselves to lift him the nurse stepped away. She said she didn't lift because she had hurt her back and didn't want to be out of work again. The three of us got him into the chair none the worse for the experience.
When the nurse said she didn't lift because she hurt her back, I had to fight the urge to ask her what she was doing at work if she couldn't perform her duties. This is an SNF. Lifting is an everyday part of the job description. If she wasn't able to assist with moving patients, she wasn't performing a regular job duty. In this case, that meant three people were at greater risk of an injury because the necessary fourth person wouldn't assist.
I've lost count of the times I've heard that excuse from someone. Usually it's a nurse, not a CNA, who you would expect it from. Once in a while, PT techs have been unable to lift, but in my experience they try anyway. I don't think I've ever heard a PT or OT say they couldn't lift.
What is the problem with nursing? Is that something they're taught in school? There's always some friction between rehab and nursing about who is responsible for lifting. I worked in one hospital where PTs were considered a lifting service. Not only would nursing not help, they wouldn't stay in the room. Lifting heavy people is so much easier with more staff.
I don't doubt this nurse had a back problem. If she had a lifting restriction, she should have been on light duty or not been working. I don't understand how this is acceptable for one group of employees and not another. This wasn't an instance of being sore from a specific activity with recovery in a few days. This nurse stated she didn't lift at all.
I wonder what would happen if I did that. I don't think it would last very long. Even if no one questioned me, I wouldn't be able to work because my patients would stay in bed.