Hi fellow allnurses. I just need to get a few things off my chest right now.
Last year I had a back injury at work and went on workcover. I have two herniated discs, one of which has an annular tear. I managed the injury last year and went back to work.
A few weeks ago I went into severe spasm. I had to stay on and work for an hour and a half before I could go to ED. I was made to feel pressured into staying because of short staffing, I kept requesting relief and was being told that when so and so has their break you'll get relieved but no one came. Afterwards looking at the coordinator's list allocation I could see several ways in which I could have been relieved in a more timely fashion. I have written a complaint against this person outlining how their lack of actions has breached duty of care to me and the patient. This is being followed up but in the meantime I have to work alongside this nurse and it's all I can do not to scream at them.
When I went to ED the registrar filled out a workers comp form but did not put restrictions on it. As I was on morphine and not really coherent at the time so I didn't pick up on it. When I returned to work I was expected to work in an environment with another staff member who could not scrub so I would be standing all day. All I get is 'everyone's off sick'. I was still in pain and refused to go along with it. I told them that I felt my safety was put at risk and that I would not stay if this was not going to be rectified. I was told by the CNC to 'go home and not feel persecuted'. The DON witnessed this exchange and I went home. I rang the DON later on that day and discussed how I felt that my safety was put at risk the day of the injury in not being relieved and that it is unfair to expect myself to work short staffed after being injured. She agreed with my decision to leave and encouraged me to document the entire thing.
I then went to the GP and got a full list of restrictions. I have been on desk duty ever since. I was pulled into managements office and asked to explain my actions leaving early that day. I told them that the DON was supportive of my decision to leave as they saw the entire scenario. I told them that given I was left in an unsafe situation the day of my injury with no support whatsoever, I have no confidence in the department's ability to provide for my safety and rather than risking further injury it was best for me to leave. Obviously someone complained to management. After hearing my side of the story management have backed right off.
Anyway since then I have noticed that there is a double standard in how staff are treated. One staff member punched their refrigerator at home breaking two metacarpals yet they were immediately put on desk duty. Another staff member gets to leave early so they can look at wedding dresses with their mother. But I injure myself at work and have to stay on.
I sit at the holding bay desk fighting back tears of rage, the nurse who went wedding dress shopping came out and complained to me about having to stay an extra 15 minutes. It's all I could do not to break down. At home I feel physically sick of the thought of having to work in the OR as a scrub/scout again. I have requested to be moved to anaesthetics, an area I am really interested in and there is less manual handling, lifting and standing in one spot all day long. The nurses in charge of anaesthetics are far more supportive of their staff. I don't want to be one of 'those nurses' who you don't want to work with because of restrictions, meaning you have to do the majority of the heavy work. This puts other people at risk and we have enough people on restrictions in the department anyway.
I try not to feel depressed but I can't help it. I don't know what I'm going to do if I can't move to anaesthetics. I no longer wish to work under people who are incapable of providing for safety and treat people equally.
um.. The only person that can take care of you is you. The fact other people may or may not understand this is irrelevant. Regardless of what other staff members who are "pressuring" you to continue working because they are "short staffed" are individuals who are also "short sighted" in my opinion.
I would be concerned about any staff member who is working with an injury because this not only affect you, it could also result in a patient injury. So the next time you are "pressured" ask that person if taking that approach would be in the best interests of the patient.
Secondly, they cannot "detain" you if you have an injury or an accident which occurred at work. Seeking medical attention for an injury occurring on the job is not "optional." By law, you are entitled to immediately cease all working activities as a result of any such injury and to seek immediate attention, without any delay. Obviously, common sense would dictate to continue working with an injury might even make the problem worse!! DON'T DO IT!
Does the safety department know about this occurring? I'm sure they would be outraged not to mention the idea that the facility is positioning themselves for a HUGE lawsuit. What kind of place is this anyways? ..Sorry, but I wouldn't give a rats posterior what other people might think about "those nurses", or how your injury might affect their staffing problems. Quite frankly, it's not your concern, nor should it be your concern for that matter. Your only concern should be the injury and how it is VERY much their concern, if they fail to immediately cease the work you are doing and delaying any process involved with the idea of seeking medical attention. It's simply not thier call to make that judgement.
Last edit by Patient_Care_Asst on Jun 19, '10
If moving to anesthetics doesn't work out, I'd suggest investigating HIM (if you are interested in staying in health care, that is). I suffered severe injury to my spinal cord almost a decade ago and am currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in HIM (I'm specifically tailoring my degree towards health informatics). It might be worth investigating for you, as it's a field that is growing rapidly and can accommodate those with physical disabilities. The AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association) website might be of some use to you: www.ahima.org
I'm not sure if there's an international or Australian version.
Your situation sounds awful, and I wish there were something I could do to help. I've been in that spot (albeit in another field); you're under pressure to stick it out against short staffing, you're in terrible pain, and you're looked down upon when you finally have to push for restrictions to your duties for the sake of your ability to keep working at all. It's miserable. A little piece of your soul drains to newsprint grey each day you have to work under those circumstances.
It helped me to know I was working towards a new, better opportunity. Perhaps the law studies you mentioned could provide that kind of hope or goal for you; if not, HIM could be a good option, or you could pursue more advanced nursing education (nursing informatics, for instance). I don't know what your country has to offer disabled workers, but the US has an agency that assists people to pursue educational and employment opportunities better suited to their talents. It also provides help with assistive devices, like improved workstations or appropriate seating. Perhaps you could investigate whether your country offers anything similar.
I am thankful that your DON has been supportive. Don't worry about being one of "those nurses" who require work restrictions. Your behavior has been beyond exemplary, but you are doing nothing wrong by requesting accommodation! Your employer will not
look out for your health. It is uncomfortable to have to advocate for yourself in the workplace, but it is necessary under the circumstances. I know how awful it feels to roll around restlessly in the night, dreading the start of the next workday. The best suggestion I can offer to combat the depression and anger is to pour all that frustration into pursuing new employment and educational opportunities. Having a clear-cut goal in mind and working towards it can really help enormously. Sometimes it helps to vent to someone completely outside the situation, so please feel free to PM me if you need a listener without a connection to you or the situation. Journaling, as an earlier poster suggested, can also be very helpful.
I hope you find a terrific new path perfectly suited to your strengths and talents. I wish you the best of luck - you certainly deserve it!
Last edit by TDCHIM on Jun 21, '10
: Reason: Edited due to error in my understanding of poster's locale